All About Elevation Certificates

If your client’s building is in a high-risk area, an Elevation Certificate provides important information needed to determine their risk-based premium rate. For example, the certificate shows the location of the building, lowest floor elevation as compared to base flood elevation (BFE), building characteristics, and flood zone.

Without an Elevation Certificate to understand a property’s full flood risk, agents must assume a property is at high risk for flooding and their clients then must pay higher rates.

Elevation Certificate FAQs

As an insurance agent for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), it is your responsibility to help your clients understand and utilize Elevation Certificates.

These questions can help you guide your client’s decision-making process. If you need additional guidance, contact your underwriting department or visit the Map Update web pages.

  • An Elevation Certificate is an administrative tool used by the NFIP to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances; to determine the proper insurance premium rate; and or support a request for a LOMA to remove a building from a high-risk flood area. The Elevation Certificate lists a building’s location, lowest point of elevation, flood zone, and other characteristics.

  • The elevation information provided in the Elevation Certificate helps determine the building’s true risk for flood damage and allows you to calculate a premium that more accurately reflects this risk.

    Once your client has an Elevation Certificate, each year at the time of renewal review the rate he or she would get utilizing the certificate. Insurance agents are responsible for determining the best rate and coverage for their clients, so this is a vital step that must be done every year.

  • Talk to your client about their options. They may ask about if having one could be financially beneficial to them, and if so, when it would be.

    You should consider the information below when helping your client decide the right time to secure an Elevation Certificate:

    • There's no downside to having an Elevation Certificate. Even if they get one, they can still pay the discounted rate if it’s lower, as long as the policy does not meet the lapsed policy criteria.
    • There’s no way to know when having an Elevation Certificate could be financially beneficial until your client gets one.
    • An Elevation Certificate will provide information that will determine the property’s true flood risk.
    • Under the Newly Mapped Procedure, until the policyholder obtains an Elevation Certificate, annual increases related to true-risk rating will continue indefinitely.
  • The first thing they should do is to contact their local floodplain manager and find out if one is on file for the property.

    If not, they can hire a land surveyor, engineer, or architect to complete one. The floodplain manager often works for or in a community's local building, permitting, engineering or land use department.

  • If the use of an elevation certificate results in a higher premium, your client can continue to be rated using the grandfather rating procedure. But only if they do not meet the qualification of a lapsed policy.

  • If your client allows the policy to lapse for more than 90 days, or twice for any length of time, an Elevation Certificate may be required and they will no longer be eligible for the discounted rate.

Encourage clients to learn more

For clients without an Elevation Certificate, encourage them to learn more and take action to acquire a certificate for their property. Providing a more accurate picture of their property’s flood risk will likely reduce their annual premiums.