Q. Flood Insurance = Elevation Certificate. Where do I get an Elevation Certificate?

So you recently refinanced your home or took out a line of credit and were told that you must buy flood insurance. Or, you have an existing mortgage and the bank has called and told you that you must buy flood insurance. In either case, if you don’t comply, the bank will purchase the insurance for you and tack it onto your monthly mortgage payment. We aren’t talking in the $10’s or even $100’s. We are talking in the $1,000’s on a yearly basis because the bank will purchase the gold-plated insurance to make sure their investment is covered.

Why is this happening? In 1973, Congress passed the Flood Disaster Protection Act. Part of this act requires that buildings in identified flood hazard zones receiving loans (mortgages, LOCs) from federally insured or regulated lending institutions must have flood insurance. Due to heavy losses in recent years (notably several Mississippi River system flood events), the government has cracked down hard on lending institutions, forcing them to review their loans to ensure that buildings in flood zones have insurance.

If your lending institution has contacted you, you need to be proactive. Contact your insurance agent immediately to get started. The agent will want to see an Elevation Certificate. If your home was built after 1984 (± depends on where you live), you may already have one on file at the City Building Department (if you live within city limits) or at the County Planning and Development Services (if you live in unincorporated Snohomish County).

Theoretically, these certificates were completed as part of the building permit process, but were often overlooked in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, so they may not exist. If you cannot find one in the public archives, then you must be able to show your insurance agent that your house is high enough not to sustain major damage in a flood, or that it is actually not in a flood area. This is done by obtaining the Elevation Certificate on your own.

Where do you get an elevation certificate? Western Engineers Surveyors, Inc. is able to provide elevation certificates. Often, the cost of obtaining the certificate will be paid back in a short amount of time through reduced insurance premiums.

If you are experiencing this, or know of someone who is experiencing this, please contact WESI at 425-356-2700 for a free quote on an Elevation Certificate or complete our proposal form online.