Insurance expert and agency owner John Craig explains the role of elevation certificates in buying, selling, building, and insuring properties.
Used to document a building’s location, lowest point of elevation, and other characteristics, an elevation certificate is primarily used to help determine flood insurance rates, and to enforce local building ordinances. That’s according to John Craig, an insurance agency owner and Allstate Corporation representative from New Jersey, as he explains more about these important building certifications.
“As defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an elevation certificate is a document that lists a building’s location, flood zone, lowest point of elevation, and other characteristics,” explains insurance agency owner Craig. “Elevation certificates are used,” he adds, “to enforce local building ordinances as well as to help determine flood insurance rates.”
Craig is, he says, often asked by clients when an elevation certificate is needed. “If your property is deemed to be at a high risk of flooding, you’ll probably need to obtain an elevation certificate before you can purchase flood insurance,” reveals the expert, who’s from the Monmouth County borough of Freehold, New Jersey.
An elevation certificate, Craig goes on to explain, outlines how a property’s elevation compares to the so-called base flood elevation on a flood map. Properties that sit at the base flood elevation, he says, are considered to have a one percent chance of flooding each year. “A property’s lowest point of elevation,” Craig adds, “is therefore compared to the base flood elevation in order to help determine its flood risk, which, in turn, decides how much you’ll pay for an appropriate flood insurance policy.”
According to John Craig, it’s also important to remember to apply for a new elevation certificate whenever significant changes are made to a property which are likely to alter its lowest point of elevation, and, as a result, its flood risk. “Converting a garage into livable space or building an addition, for example, may affect your home’s lowest point of elevation, so it’s important to keep in mind,” adds the insurance expert.
Elevation certificates can be obtained from existing owners when purchasing a property, or from builders—who are often required to obtain an elevation certificate during the course of their work—in the case of new builds.
“Alternatively, if a community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, a floodplain manager at the local municipal office should be able to assist, and can find out whether the appropriate certification is already on file or not,” adds insurance agency owner John Craig. Where the appropriate certification is missing or outdated, a professional land surveyor can evaluate a property and complete a new or updated elevation certificate, according to the expert.
Not every property needs an elevation certificate. “You can check a property on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps to help determine whether an elevation certificate is needed,” suggests Craig.
“Keep in mind, however, that all properties are at some risk of flooding,” he adds, wrapping up, “so it may be a sensible idea to consider purchasing flood insurance even if you’re not necessarily required to do so.”
John Craig is a New Jersey native and Allstate Corporation representative from the county seat of Monmouth County, Freehold. A graduate of Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, Craig established his business in 2018. When the insurance agency owner is not at work, he enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, and watching the New York Rangers. To find out more about John Craig, visit https://bit.ly/johnatallstate or call 732-294-4847.