Which Zones Require Flood Insurance?

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 6, 2021

From the home’s number of bathrooms to the age of its appliances, endless factors determine how to decide if a home is right for you. An essential detail that you should consider before you buy a home is the flood zone that the home is located in. Buying a home in an area that’s at a high risk of flooding can force you to buy flood insurance, which can have a large impact on how much “home” you can afford. 

What Are Flood Zones?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have created a comprehensive system on maps across the country to let homeowners know how possible it is for different homes to flood. Flood zones indicate how likely a home in any given area is to flood on an annual basis and over the course of a 30-year mortgage loan. When you shop for a home, you may see online listings indicating which flood zone a home is in and whether you’ll need to purchase high-risk flood insurance. You can also search for your address using FEMA’s Search Map here

Which Flood Zones Require Flood Insurance?

FEMA designates multiple flood zones — but not every zone requires that you invest in expensive flood insurance. Let’s take a look at the areas where you’ll need to buy flood insurance, areas where flood insurance is recommended and areas where you can think about skipping flood insurance.

Areas that Require Flood Insurance

The following area designations are considered to be at a high risk of flooding. If your property is located in any of the following areas, you’ll likely need to purchase flood insurance.

  • Zone A: Homes that are located in Zone A have a 1% chance of flooding annually and a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Depending on where you live, your home in Zone A may have an additional classification that tells you more about your flood risk. All flood zones with a designation beginning with an “A” require flood insurance.
  • Zone AE: Zone AE is the new classification for former Zones A1 to A30 and include flood elevations when you view a flood map.
  • Zone AH: Homes located in Zone AH have a 1% chance of shallow flooding annually and a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. The source of flooding in Zone AH is usually a pond or lake with a depth of 1 to 3 feet.
  • Zone AO: Homes located in Zone AO have the standard Zone A flooding risk, usually resulting from a nearby stream or river with a depth of 1 to 3 feet.
  • Zone AR: Homes in Zone AR usually have a temporarily increased risk of flooding due to a nearby construction project or restoration of a flood control system (like a levee or dam). Mandatory flood insurance requirements in this area may vary, but policies will usually be less expensive when compared to the other types of Zone A areas.
  • Zone A99: Homes in Zone A99 have a standard chance of flooding associated with homes in Zone A but will be protected by a federal flood control system that has reached a specific legal status.
  • Zone V: Homes located in Zone V have a 1% risk of flooding annually and a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. The difference between Zone A and Zone V is that the flooding risk associated with Zone V is associated with the home’s situation near a coastal area. These homes also have increased flooding risks associated with storms and storm waves.

Homes in Zone V may also have an additional distinction indicated by a VE or V1 through V30 label. You can view a detailed analysis of the base flood elevation in these areas.

Areas That Do Not Require Flood Insurance

If your home is located in any of the following areas, you will not be required to purchase flood insurance as a term of your mortgage loan.

  • Zone B and X (shaded): Homes located in Zone B and Zone X that are shaded are considered to carry a moderate risk of flooding. You may or may not want to invest in flood insurance if you live in an area that carries a moderate risk of flooding.
  • Zone C and X (unshaded): Homes located in Zone C and Zone X that are unshaded carry the lowest risk of flooding. Though a flood can occur in any part of the country due to seasonal weather hazards, most homeowners who live in these areas choose to skip flood insurance. 
  • Zone D: Homes in Zone D have not been assigned a unique flooding risk. No flood analysis has been conducted in these areas, so you’ll need to decide for yourself if you believe that there is a risk of flooding. 

Do I Still Need Flood Insurance if I Don’t Live in Zones A or V?

If you don’t live in an area labeled Zone A or V, you won’t be required to purchase flood insurance. However, you may still want to take steps to protect yourself by purchasing a flood insurance policy. A flood can strike anyone, no matter where they live — and if your home is flooded and you don’t have flood insurance, you will more than likely be left paying for the damage completely out of pocket. Though some homeowners believe that their homeowner’s insurance will help them cover the costs associated with a flood if they don’t live in a high-risk flood zone, this is not the case.

Zoom out from your address and take a look at how close to your home is to other flood zones and flood zone distinctions. Remember that flood insurance in areas that are not high risk is more affordable than policies sold to homeowners who live in Zone A or Zone V, which means that flood insurance could end up being an affordable protection for you. 

Best Flood Insurance Providers

If you live in a high-risk or moderate-risk flood zone, you’ll want to compare flood insurance and add protection to your current homeowner’s insurance policy. Consider beginning your search with a few of our favorite homeowners insurance providers below — each company is authorized by the federal government to provide flood insurance policies.

Learning More About Flood Insurance

Do you really need to buy flood insurance when you purchase a home? The answer will vary depending on the type of loan that you’re using to invest in a property and where you live. Even if you aren’t required to purchase flood insurance, it’s a good idea to learn more about the benefits that this type of policy can add to your list of home coverages.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the different FEMA flood zones?


FEMA sorts flood zones by the risk that your property will flood in a given year and over the course of a 30-year mortgage loan. Homes in Zone A and V have a 1% chance of flooding annually, which makes them high-risk. Homeowners who live in Zones B, C, X and D are not considered to have a high risk of flooding, which means that they are not required to purchase flood insurance. 


Is Flood Zone A bad?


There are plenty of wonderful, sturdy homes built in Zone A flood risk areas. The Zone A distinction simply means that you’ll need to purchase flood insurance to protect your property, as you’re at an increased risk of flooding. You’ll need to decide if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to purchasing a home with a flooding Zone A distinction. 

About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.