What is a LOMA?
A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) is a FEMA document issued to a homeowner that corrects an error in a flood map.
What is a Special Flood Hazard Area?
A Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is the FEMA term for a high risk flood zone. This is sometimes referred to as the 100-year flood zone. FEMA defines a flood zone as being a 1% chance of a flood event in any given year. There are various types of flood zones (A2, AE, VE, V9, etc), but these zones are generally classified as a Special Flood Hazard Area and a lender will require flood insurance if your property is in any of these zones. At first glance, a 1% chance of a flood event per year doesn’t seem like much. But, consider a typical mortgage is for 30 years, you have a 30% chance of a flood event occurring during that time.
What is a Base Flood Elevation?
The base flood elevation (BFE) is the elevation of the top of the flood zone. This measurement is found on the flood maps for most flood zone types. There are some flood zone types that won’t have a BFE calculated for it (Zone A, for example). This is one of the measurements that insurance companies will use to rate your policy. This is also the measurement that will be key in removing your property from the flood zone. While your home is located within the flood zone (looking at the map), your elevation certificate may show you being above the BFE. This is where the LOMA would come into play.
What is a FIRM?
A FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) is what’s commonly referred to as a Flood Map. This is the map that FEMA publishes showing where the flood zones are. Flood maps used to be in paper version, but are now digitalized and accessible via FEMA’s Map Service Center. https://msc.fema.gov/portal.
What is an elevation certificate and why do I need one?
This is a document that certifies a structure’s exact elevation on its respective property. It’s the most important document in the LOMA process as it determines whether you qualify for a LOMA. Insurance companies also use this document to rate your flood insurance policy.