Flood Insurance for Avalon and Stone Harbor Owners

I attended the Flood Insurance presentation Tuesday evening at the Stone Harbor Borough Hall.  Very informative.


FEMA has updated how properties are rated.  It’s the first major change since the program started back in 1968.

The process is now data driven.  The elevation certificate is just one aspect of the information used to determine the cost of the policy.  As of March 2023, all flood policies have been switched to this new rating system.

Data reviewed: replacement cost of the structure (determined by FEMA), number of floors, distance to a body of water, flood vents, and ground elevation.  The location of the mechanicals is an important factor. All equipment must be installed at the 1st floor living level or higher, including the outside AC condenser unit.

As long as a home was built in compliance with the flood maps at the time, a homeowner will not be penalized on the rate. 

New homes will now pay a higher premium based on the value of the structure.  Although hopefully this cost is offset with the required compliance on elevation and mechanicals.


The Community Rating System (CRS):  each town earns credits for a variety of activities (outreach programs, stormwater management, open space preservation, construction standards, etc.) and these credits determine the discounts available to property owners.

Currently, Avalon has a class 3 rating (35% discount), and Stone Harbor has a class 7 rating (15% discount).  Stone Harbor is working to improve their rating and expects to upgrade to a class 6 (20% discount) this year.

Private insurance is a viable option for owners of non-conforming structures.  There are approximately 10 companies offering coverage in our area. The private companies are able to insure beyond the $250,000 cap of FEMA.  The  insurance agents also suggested a FEMA policy plus an excess policy if a homeowner requests additional coverage.

For non-confirming structures, FEMA uses the “improvements” figure on your tax bill to calculate permitted improvements.  The municipality has to look at all improvements during the past 10 years to determine if any allowance is remaining.

On FEMA policies, the cost increase is capped at 18% per year.  Private insurance companies are not regulated with a price cap.  And FEMA policies continue to be transferable from a seller to a buyer.


The public will have access to a floodplain data program called Forerunner.  A potential buyer or property owner will be able to view elevation certificates, risk assessments, and flood zones for specific properties.  

Ann  3/16/23

Be sure your HVAC equipment is elevated!
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