Flood Insurance

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Flooding near La Center, February 1996
Flooding near La Center, February 1996

The National Flood Insurance Program was created by Congress in 1968 to make flood insurance available to property owners in flood-prone communities. The federal program requires local governments to adopt and enforce flood plain regulations before their residents can purchase flood insurance.

Following the purchase of flood insurance, there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. For this reason, residents should purchase flood insurance before the onset of the rainy season to ensure coverage during a flood.

Flood insurance rate maps available

Flood insurance rate maps, prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, identify flood hazard zones in Clark County, including “base flood” areas that have a 1 percent chance of being inundated in any year.

The maps will indicate properties where mortgage lenders may require flood insurance and where flood plain development regulations may apply. Property owners are encouraged to examine the maps because some land may have been added to flood hazard zones, resulting in new insurance requirements and development restrictions.

Flood insurance rate maps for Clark County

FEMA mailed Clark County a Letter of Final Determination for the final maps on March 5, 2012. The maps and related flood study for Clark County took effect on September 5, 2012. In addition, flood insurance rate maps for properties along the Washougal River, along the Little Washougal River and behind the Port of Camas-Washougal’s levee on the Columbia River too effect on Jan. 19, 2018.

For more information, contact Melissa Tracy, Planning Technician II, at 360.397.6118 ext. 5843 or melissa.tracy@clark.wa.gov.

Flood plain management

The National Flood Insurance Program and Clark County’s Flood Hazard Area Code provide an alternative to traditional flood control. These regulations acknowledge our community’s land use needs and guide development to allow floodwaters to move naturally.

Participation in the program and the availability of flood insurance to county residents requires Clark County to manage its flood plains in ways that meet or exceed standards set by FEMA.

Since Clark County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, federally backed flood insurance is available for all structures, whether or not they are within the flood plain. Be aware that standard property insurance does not cover flooding.

Community Rating System

Clark County also participates in the Community Rating System. This is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed minimum National Flood Insurance Program requirements.

Reductions in flood insurance premiums are achieved through a points-based program that reflects the county’s efforts for improved flood management and community outreach.

For participating communities, flood insurance premiums are discounted in increments of 5 percent. A Class 1 community receives a 45 percent premium discount for properties in high-risk flood areas, while a Class 9 community receives a 5 percent discount. (A Class 10 community does not participate in the Community Rating System  or did not obtain the minimum number of credit points and receives no discount.)

Since October 2009, Clark County’s flood rating has been Class 5, which means property owners who purchase flood insurance in high-risk flood areas receive a 25 percent discount on their premiums. The county previously had been rated as Class 7, which provided a 15 percent discount.

Flood hazard area

More than 25 percent of National Flood Insurance Program claims are filed for properties outside the 100-year flood plain, also known as the flood hazard area. Find out if your property is located in a flood hazard area.

Federal financial assistance requires the purchase of flood insurance for buildings located within the flood hazard area, a requirement that can affect nearly all mortgages financed through commercial lenders.

While the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement has been in effect for many years, not all lenders required flood insurance in the past. Today, however, most lenders are now requiring flood insurance. When refinancing a loan, nearly all lending institutions will enforce the flood insurance requirement. It is the lender’s responsibility to check Flood Insurance Rate Maps to determine whether a structure is within a flood hazard area.

It's important that you protect your property. According to national statistics, homes inside flood hazard areas have a 26 percent chance of being damaged by flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared with a 9 percent chance of sustaining fire damage.

Types of insurance coverage

The National Flood Insurance Program insures buildings with two types of coverage: structural and contents.

  • Structural coverage - Includes walls, floors, insulation, furnace and other items permanently attached to the structure.
  • Contents coverage - Purchased separately to cover the contents of an insurable building.

Flood insurance also pays a portion of the costs of actions taken to prevent flood damage.

More information

For information about county floodplain and floodway zone maps, go to Maps Online.

You also can contact your homeowner’s insurance agent for more information on the National Flood Insurance Program or call the National Flood Insurance Program at (888) 379-9531.

Clark County flood newsletter (PDF)