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California Flood Glossary

Base Flood Elevation (BFE) – The elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Zones AE, AH, A1-A30, AO, AR, A99, V1-V30, and VE that indicates the water surface elevation resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year

Basement – Any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides.

Community Rating System (CRS) – A program developed by the FEMA Mitigation Division to provide incentives for those communities in the National Flood Insurance Program that have gone beyond the minimum floodplain management requirements to develop extra measures to provide protection from flooding.

Elevation Certificate – A certificate that verifies the elevation data of a structure on a given property relative to the ground level. The Elevation Certificate is used by local communities and builders to ensure compliance with local floodplain management ordinances and is also used by insurance agents and companies in the rating of flood insurance policies.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – The federal agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with responding to, planning for, recovering from, and mitigating against man-made and natural disasters.

Flood – A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of
normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from one of the following:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source Mudflow
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result oferosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) – Official map of a community on which the Mitigation Division Administrator has delineated both the special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

Flood Zone (Zone) – A geographical area shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map that reflects the severity or type of flooding in the area.

Floodplain – Any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.

Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) – Coverage for expenses a property owner must incur, above and beyond the cost to repair the physical damage the structure actually sustained from a flooding event, to comply with mitigation requirements of state or local floodplain management ordinances or laws. Acceptable mitigation measures are elevation, flood-proofing, relocation, demolition, or any combination thereof.

Mandatory Purchase – Under the provisions of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, individuals, businesses, and others buying, building, or improving property located in identified areas of special flood hazards within participating communities are required to purchase flood insurance as a prerequisite for receiving any type of direct or indirect federal financial assistance (e.g., any loan, grant, guaranty, insurance, payment, subsidy, or disaster assistance) when the building or personal property is the subject of or security for such assistance.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – A federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.

Non-Residential – Includes, but is not limited to: small business concerns, churches, schools, farm buildings (including grain bins and silos), pool houses, clubhouses, recreational buildings, mercantile structures, agricultural and industrial structures, warehouses, hotels and motels with normal room rentals for less than 6 months’ duration, and nursing homes.

Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) – An area in a low to moderate risk flood zone (Zones B, C, X) that is not in any immediate danger from flooding caused by overflowing rivers or hard rains. However, it is important to note that structures within a NSFHA are still at risk.

Post-FIRM Building – A building for which construction or substantial improvement occurred after December 31, 1974, or on or after the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), whichever is late

Pre-FIRM Building – A building for which construction or substantial improvement occurred on or before December 31, 1974, or before the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)

Residential Condominium Building Association Policy (RCBAP) – Policy issued to insure a residential condominium building and all units within the building, provided that the building is located in a Regular Program Community and at least 75 percent of the total floor area is residential.

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) – A FEMA-identified high-risk flood area where flood insurance is mandatory for properties. An area having special flood, mudflow, or flood-related erosion hazards, and shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map as Zone A, AO, A1-A30, AE, A99, AH, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, AR/A1-A30, V1-V30, VE, or V.

Waiting Period – The time between the date of application and the policy effective date.

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