A new study, Atlas-14, has been conducted in Austin by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study was finalized last fall and increased the number of structures and areas that are/will be affected by flooding. This also means that if you want to build in the newly identified flood zone areas it could be more costly. All new properties in the updated flood zones will have to be raised 2 feet and no new multi-dwelling units can be built. A large factor to the flood zone increase is the amount of impervious coverage experienced over the past 20 years plus. In 1997 impervious coverage was at 18.5% compared to 26.8% in 2015. You can imagine that this percentage has most likely increased by 2019. The water has to go somewhere and the heavy rain events are becoming more common.
The Atlas-14 studies helped change how Austin defines a 500, 100 and 25-year flood in our area. The biggest change is to the 100-year flood definition. For the affected areas a 13-inch rain in 24 hours used to be defined as a 500-year flood and now it is considered 100. This is an increase in chances of a flood for those in the newly defined 100-year flood zone by five times. Austin is designing new flood infrastructure and is regulating land use based on these newly defined zones.
If a home or structure is affected by the new flood maps and is moved into the 100-year flood zone the property owner may have some options. If the property owner purchased flood insurance prior to the rezoning or within a year of the rezoning, they may qualify for the Preferred Risk newly mapped rating. This may result in a reduced flood premium as long as the property owner does not cancel the policy or allow it to lapse once in place. This could mean significant savings over the course of owning your home. Please note this does not mean the premium won’t increase, but the increase could be less significant had you not been “grandfathered.”
Flood insurance is available through private and government-backed policies. Your homeowner’s policy does not protect against a flood. There are set maximum limits with FEMA, but private carriers can offer other options. It would be good to discuss these options with an insurance agent prior to purchasing a home, building or land in these newly designated areas. If you already own property in these areas you should contact an agent to see how you can protect yourself.
Additional information available at http://austintexas.gov/atlas14
Guest post by Robert Rainey. Have questions about flood insurance or any other insurance needs? Give him a call today and his team will get you going in the right direction.