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Flood Insurance and FEMA

Our risk for flooding is changing. Reconsidering investing in flood insurance for the safety of your family and your financial future. Learn why from Wright Flood.

Choose from these topics to see more information below:

5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Flood Insurance Premium

View the full brochure.

FEMA D671, Oct 2007

Just because your home or building is in the floodplain does not mean that you can't reduce your flood insurance premiums. In fact, your building may have been built in a way that increases the cost of your annual premiums. Below are the most common causes of high flood insurance rates and options that could reduce the amount you pay. If you're considering making a change to your home, whether it is a repair, remodel, or brand new building, consider some common practices that will provide you with the most affordable flood insurance rates and reduce your risk from suffering flood damage.

Consider the elevated house. Originally built in a floodplain after Flood Insurance Rate Maps were published, the mortgage company requires these homeowners to carry $100,000 of flood insurance coverage. Their annual premium was $1,255 per year. However, after they installed proper flood openings, elevated their utilities, removed the sub-grade crawlspace, and elevated the home, their premium was reduced to $190 per year for the same amount of coverage. Addressing just one of these modifications could reduce the annual cost of your flood insurance premium. This is intended to show activities that can affect flood insurance premiums. The methods and techniques to accomplish these structural modifications must be done in accordance with local building codes.


If you locate any machinery or equipment that services your building (i.e., electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air conditioning equipment) below the base flood elevation, an additional surcharge will be added to your insurance premium causing your annual insurance rates to increase. If your house was elevated to a safer level, maximize your savings and reduce your losses by relocating your machinery and equipment above the base flood elevation. Consider using your attic, an extra closet, or an elevated platform (as shown) to store utilities. For more information on relocating utilities see FEMA publication 259: Engineering Principles and Practices of Retrofitting Flood-prone Residential Structures.

Flood Openings

One common reason why insurance policies are rated so severely is due to a lack of proper flood openings. IBC/IRC minimum building code requirements for foundation vents in areas outside the floodplain may not meet the same specifications as flood openings or flood vents within a floodplain. For buildings in the floodplain, there must be at least two openings with 1 sq. inch of opening per sq ft of enclosed area, and the bottom of those openings can be no higher than 1ft above the exterior finished grade. There are no discounts for partial credit. If you have 1000 sq feet of enclosed crawlspace and 900 sq inches of openings, you will be charged as though there are no openings (i.e., basement loading fees could apply). Don't forget that garage doors, windows, and doors do not count as flood openings unless they have openings installed within them. For more information on flood openings, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 1-93.


Unless explicitly authorized, basements in new buildings constructed in the floodplain are prohibited. FEMA considers ìcrawlspacesî that are sub-grade on all sides to be basements as well. If your community has adopted building standards that allows such construction, homeowners in the floodplain with an excavated sub-grade crawlspace will bear an additional financial burden through a 15-20% increase on their flood insurance premiums. When building, you can save that cost by backfilling any excavated areas within the foundation. It can also be done at a later date by using pea-gravel or other suitable material to raise the interior crawlspace floor elevation to the same height or higher than the exterior finished grade. For more information on basements, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 11-01.


Elevating above the base flood elevation is the fastest way to reduce the cost of your annual flood insurance premium. You can save hundreds of dollars for every foot the elevated floor is located above your community's established base flood elevation. Elevating just one foot above the base flood elevation often results in a 30% reduction in annual premiums. A homeowner with an elevated home, like the one shown on this poster with its first floor elevated 3 feet above the base flood elevation, can expect to save 60% or more on annual flood insurance premiums. For more information on elevation, see FEMA Technical Bulletin 2-93.


One of the most effective options is relocating your home on an area of your property that has its natural grade above the base flood elevation. This method may be costly, but can reduce or eliminate the need to pay flood insurance entirely. If you are preparing to build a new home or structure, evaluate your property to determine if there is a suitable building area outside of the floodplain. Be warned; homes constructed outside the floodplain (or on natural ground above the base flood elevation) are not 100% safe from flooding. On average, between 20-25% of all flood insurance claim payouts go to buildings that are located outside of the special flood hazard area. If your home is located outside the floodplain and you still want to be covered, affordable ìPreferred Risk policies are available. For more information on relocation, see FEMA Technical Manual 312, Homeownerís Guide to Retrofitting.

Find more resources and information by visiting FEMA online at:
FEMA Publication Number D671
Catalog Number 07284-1

This brochure was produced in 2005 by the Mitigation Division of FEMA Region 10. Illustrated by Jeff Markham. If you have any questions regarding the content of this brochure or wish to obtain additional copies or a poster version, please contact FEMA Region X at 425.487.4600.

What is a flood?

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, rapid snowmelt, ice jams in waterways, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history, it's also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development. Flood-hazard maps have been created to show different degrees of risk for your community, which help determine the cost of flood insurance. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.

What causes flooding?

Fast melting snow, severe storms, and heavy rainfall are some of the causes of flooding.  Others may include dams, flash floods, floods after a fire, ice jams, La Niña, levees, mudflows, new developments, spring thaw, tropical storms and hurricanes, and the west coast rainy season.

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Understanding flood maps

FEMA conducts a Flood Insurance Study and uses this data to create the flood hazard maps.

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Undergoing a map change

Flood risk can and does change over time.  FEMA frequently updates flood hazard maps.

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Flood map update schedule

Enter your ZIP code and find out which communities in your county have maps scheduled to be updated.

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The cost of flooding

The cost of flooding can vary drastically.  See inch-by-inch how much flooding will cost you.

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Residential Coverage

Flood policies for homeowners

Flood insurance is available to everyone, from high-risk areas to moderate-to-low risk ones.

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Flood policies for renters

There are many flood polcies available for renters, including contents-only flood insurance.

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Flood policies for condo owners/renters

If you rent or own a condominium unit, you may want to look at both building coverage and contents coverage.

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How policy rates are determined

Policy rates are based on many factors, including flood risk, amount of coverage and elevation.

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Know what's covered

Flood insurance covers property damage and personal items, but it's always smart to know what's covered.

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Understanding the basics

Learn the essentials to flood insurance, including what it covers, what it protects and who it protects.

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Questions for your agent

A lot of things determine what policy is best for your business, so if you have questions, now's the time to ask.

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Commercial Coverage

Business property risk

Your business is either in a high-risk or moderate-to-low risk area.  Understand the different flood risks.

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Commercial policy rates

For as little as $162 a year, qualified business owners can get $50,000 of contents coverage.

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Know what's covered

Flood insurance covers physical damage to your property and most possessions, but it's always smart to know what's covered.

Learn more »

Understanding the basics

Learn the essentials to flood insurance, including what it covers and what it protects.

Learn more »

Questions for your agent

A lot of things determine what policy is best for your business, now's the time to ask.

Learn more »

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Preparation & Recovery

Before a flood

Educate yourself.  After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family's safety.

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During a flood

Protect yourself and your home.

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After a flood

The road to recovery.  As soon as floodwater levels have dropped, it's time to start the recovery process.

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File your claim

Dealing with the aftermath.  If you have experienced a flood, you can file your flood insurance claim by following these three steps.

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How to Buy a Policy

Get a Quote

Before you buy a flood insurance policy, contact The Burns Agency by phone at 315-853-5052 or by email at for a quote. Click here for full contact info.

Discuss Coverages

The Burns Agency can help you determine the best deductible and coverage amounts for your specific home and flood zone. Deductibles apply separately to building and contents with different amounts to choose from. Like other insurance plans, a higher deductible will lower the premium you pay, but will also reduce your claim payment. Your mortgage lender may also set a maximum amount for your deductible.

Mandatory Requirements

Homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended.


Payment must be made for the full year's premium. The National Flood Insurance Program accepts check and credit card payments (American Express, Diners Club, Discover Card, Master Card or Visa). Coverage will not be effective until full payment is received.

30-Day Waiting Period

There is a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before a new flood policy goes into effect. Here are the only exceptions:

  • If your lender requires flood insurance in connection with the making, increasing, extending, or renewing of your loan.
  • If an additional amount of insurance is required as a result of a map revision.
  • If flood insurance is required as a result of a lender determining that a loan that does not have flood insurance coverage should be protected by flood insurance.
  • If an additional amount of insurance is being obtained in connection with the renewal of a policy.

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Going to Canada?

Ask us for a Canadian ID card. "A U.S. traveler in Canada is required to carry a motor vehicle liability card, plus vehicle ownership papers. A copy of the automobile policy is recommended to be carried. And a Canadian Non-Resident Inter-provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card is strongly recommended. U.S. travelers who do not carry a Canadian Non-Resident Inter-provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card and are stopped by Canadian police or are in an accident while driving in Canada risk being fined or having their vehicle impounded until proof of proper coverage is obtained."