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​Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about Pennsylvania floodplain management, flood insurance, and more with the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below:


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​What is the NFIP?

​Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) due to escalating costs to taxpayers for flood disaster relief. The NFIP is based on the agreement that if a community practices sound floodplain management, the federal government will make flood insurance available to residents in that community.

​What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

​When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps flood hazards in a community or county, two products are produced — a flood insurance study (FIS) report and a flood insurance rate map (FIRM).

​Why are the maps being updated?

​Some communities within Pennsylvania are now being shown a single set of countywide flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs). The most significant change is that the new maps have been prepared with updated base mapping and topography, which will improve the accuracy of floodplain determinations. For most of the state, these are two foot contours based on LiDAR (light detection and ranging) imagery.

​What is the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) determination process?

​Before being approved and made effective, flood insurance rate maps (FIRMS) undergo a determination process which includes opportunities for public feedback from community officials and property owners.

​What coordinate system information is being used?

​All flood elevations shown in this Flood Insurance Study are now referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88).

​How do I find out if a structure or property is located in the special flood hazard area?

​You can locate a building or a lot by consulting the flood insurance rate map (FIRM) or by contacting the floodplain administrator for your community.

​What is a protest?

​Challenges received during the appeal period that do not address proposed base flood elevations (BFEs) are considered “protests.”

​What is an appeal?

Some flood studies result in new or revised base flood elevations (BFEs). During the 90-day appeal period, community officials and others may object to the accuracy of the proposed BFEs.

​What happens after the appeal period?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will issue a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) and then provide the community with six months to adopt up-to-date floodplain management ordinances.

​What if a structure is shown in a different flood zone on the new map?

The new map will not affect continuing insurance policies for a structure built in compliance with local floodplain management regulations and the flood map in effect at the time of construction.

​Is there any recourse if I do not agree with the new map?

​Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses the most accurate flood hazard information available, the source maps used to prepare the flood rate insurance map (FIRM) may have scale or topographic limitations.

​How can I request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)?

​To obtain a letter of LOMA, the requester must complete a LOMA application form, which is available on FEMA’s website.

​Will LOMAs issued under the old map be valid under the new map?

​When a new flood rate insurance map (FIRM) becomes effective, it automatically supersedes previously issued letters of amendments (LOMAs), letters of map revision (LOMRs), and other map changes that have been issued for structures and properties on the revised FIRM panels.

​How can I purchase flood insurance?

​A policy may be purchased from any licensed property insurance agent or broker who is in good standing in the state, in which the agent is licensed or through any agent representing a Write Your Own (WYO) company.

​​What factors determine flood insurance premiums?

Several factors are used to determine flood insurance premiums, including the amount of coverage purchased, the deductible, location, age, occupancy, and type of building.

​How can I reduce flood insurance premium rates?

One way to potentially reduce flood insurance premium rates for policyholders is to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS).