Lesson 3:

Discussing the NFIP with the Public

It is important to be able to discuss basic information about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with anyone concerned about flooding.

This lesson will discuss the NFIP and informing the public about it after a disaster event.  Topics in this lesson include:

  • NFIP Flood Insurance
  • Community Floodplain Management ordinances
  • Substantial Damage
  • Substantial Improvement


At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Recognize information about the NFIP to share with the general public.

Reasons to Discuss the NFIP

There are two reasons why Hazard Mitigation staff talk to the public about the National Flood Insurance Program:

First, the NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in communities that participate in the NFIP.   This insurance is designed to help those affected by floods to accelerate recovery, mitigate future flood losses, and reduce the personal and national costs of flooding. After a flood or other hazard event the general public may have questions about filing flood insurance claims or purchasing a policy.

Second, each community participating in the NFIP has adopted a floodplain management ordinance, which reflects the flood risk information provided in the FEMA flood maps. This ordinance regulates new development in what the NFIP calls Special Flood Hazard Areas, or floodplains.  It also regulates the repair and rebuilding of structures in the floodplain. Members of the public are affected by these regulations after a natural hazard event and may look to Hazard Mitigation staff to inform them.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is a mitigation measure that protects policy holders from the financial risks of flooding.

Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Over the past 10 years, the average flood claim paid has amounted to nearly $48,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect from devastating financial loss.

The cost of flood insurance varies depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property's flood risk.  Insurance can be purchased for structures, contents, or both.

Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before a policy goes into effect, but there are exceptions.

Providing NFIP Insurance Information

Excellent sources of information on flood insurance are provided in Lesson 5 of this course.  Refer to an HM Insurance Specialist at the JFO if you need assistance with answering a specific question from a member of the public, or if you need clarification and additional information about aspects of the NFIP.

A JFO Insurance Hotline, manned by HM Insurance Specialists, may be established after large flood disasters and is for the use of FEMA staff only.

You can request the phone number for an HM Insurance Specialist or the JFO Insurance Hotline phone number from your supervisor.

Visit the NFIP’s official website, FloodSmart.gov for general information.

Community Floodplain Management Ordinances

Floodplain management ordinances require that when a structure in the floodplain has Substantial Damage or undergoes Substantial Improvement, the owner must bring the structure into compliance with the most current standards when repairing or rebuilding. This requirement is most significant for structures built before the current floodplain ordinance was enacted.

Substantial Damage is defined as damage from any source for which the cost of repair is equal to or greater than half of the market value of the structure before the loss.

Substantial Improvement is defined as improvement with a cost that is equal to or greater than half of the market value of a structure before the improvement. Land value is not included.

If the structure is damaged or improved, but not to the regulatory definition of Substantial Damage or Substantial Improvement or if it already meets the ordinance, the owner can reduce the risk of future damages by selecting other, less expensive mitigation measures.

Information about floodplain management ordinances is best provided by the local government.  This will be further discussed later in the course.


This completes this lesson.  In this lesson you learned about:

  • NFIP Flood Insurance
  • Community Floodplain Management ordinances
  • Substantial Damage
  • Substantial Improvement