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What is FIRM? (Flood Insurance Rate Map)

Floods are scary disasters. With one strong push, homes and belongings can be swept away, making flood insurance necessary. Insurance providers need a way to determine the risk to a particular home or area. They often use FIRM, also known as a Flood Insurance Rate Map. What is FIRM? How does it apply to insurance?


If you’re interested in learning more about FIRM, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about FIRM, what a FIRM zone is, and the purpose of these designations. We have a solid grasp of Flood Insurance Map Rates and are prepared to use them to dispute your client’s insurance claim.

What is FIRM?

A FIRM, also known as Flood Insurance Rate Map, is a map of a community inside the United States of America. These maps especially focus on risk premium zones and special hazard areas with items other communities do not have. Typically, these FIRM zones are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Typically, FIRMs show certain areas sitting in the 100-year flood boundary. This statement means these spots have a one percent chance of experiencing severe flooding in a year, helping flood insurers to determine the risk level. They display which locations are more at risk for damage than others.


FIRMs are like topographic maps that specialize in showing flood risk in some areas. They designate special zones, beneficial for clients and the companies that must insure them in their new homes. Houses will not be built in areas where flooding travels most. There is a FIRM, and then there is a FIRM zone. Let’s talk about this section next.

What Is A FIRM Zone?

A FIRM zone is each designated section on Flood Insurance Map. Each FIRM zone has its own set of risks. The map shows the areas with high and special flood considerations. Each firm zone is utilized by the NFIP, or the National Flood Insurance Program, to handle floodplains, mitigate the risks, and provide insurance for those in the area.


A FIRM zone displays risks from low to moderate, readable to those in the area. Communities don’t have to participate in the NFIP, but if they do, flood insurance is made available to everyone in high-risk zones as they have a much higher risk of home destruction.

What Is The Purpose Of A FIRM?

Although FIRMs might not seem that critical, they play a vital role in the safekeeping of a community and the price points set for insurance purposes. Once flood hazard areas are noted, insurance companies will determine the premium to set for the area depending on the risk. Higher-risk areas require a higher premium in case something goes wrong.


A FIRM also provides insight into predictions for a mapped area. Should people live there? What action should be taken in the meantime to protect the area and keep the people there aware of what could occur?

FIRMs are critical for the structure and support of a community. Analyzing flood zones keeps everyone in the know and protected with quality insurance options.

What Are The FEMA Flood Zone Types?

Once a community receives an analysis, it gets one of three flood zone types. These determine how high of a risk the location is for flooding.


Here are the FEMA flood zone types in each community:


  • Undetermined risk: The community has no conclusion on risk.
  • Moderate-to-low risk: There is a low chance of flooding.
  • High-risk: There is a high chance of flooding.


These progress in order of severity.


The higher an area’s risk for a flood, the higher the insurance premiums will be. If your client wants to avoid risk, they should avoid areas with a high or undetermined risk for safety purposes.


Often, the terms PRE-FIRM and POST-FIRM come up when referring to this map. If your clients are new to these concepts, it can be tricky to explain the difference. We have you covered.


A PRE-FIRM structure was built in a community before the area took on the very first FIRM. It existed before the premiums for insurance were created and hazards were established.


A POST-FIRM structure is the opposite. This item came to life after the community took on the first FIRM. The ordinances of the community, such as building the first floor on a raised platform, apply to post structures.


You know the difference between PRE and POST-FIRM – but why have them at all? What damages can flooding really do?

What Damage Can Floods Do?

There is a significant reason FIRMs are used for a community. Although rain every once in a while, is no cause for concern, large torrents of rain leading to floods will have substantial damage. It’s critical to be aware of the harm a flood can do to a community and why it’s vital to keep them in check.


Floods can cause the following damages to a community:


  • Structural damage to bridges and roadways
  • Harm to homes and other buildings
  • Injury and death to human beings
  • Hurt and death to pets
  • Electrical damage and electrocution


Devastating destruction and death can occur in the worst floods.


FIRMs are critical because they allow insurance companies to understand what clients might need if there were a devastating flood in the area. Floods are one of the scariest types of natural disasters and can destroy everything clients own, especially if they occupy a spot with a high risk. With risk comes the need to make insurance claims.

Final Thoughts

FIRM, or Flood Insurance Rate Map, is critical for insurers to determine how risky a particular area is for building homes and other structures. In areas with high risk, flood insurance is available to everyone and often required. FIRM is ideal for floodplain management, insurance, and mitigation for clients and beyond.


If you’re interested in learning more about how to defend your clients and provide them assistance in cases of flooding, you’ve come to the right place. We at CAMERON CLAIMS® offer tons of beneficial services for clients, from disputed claims services to comparative estimates. We want to provide the best foundation for your clients. Call Us Today for more information 772-600-5319


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