What Is a Flood Insurance Elevation Certificate?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2020
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A flood insurance elevation certificate is a document that accurately identifies the elevation of property and buildings above the flood plain for the local area. Typically, this type of assessment is made by registered engineers and surveyors who are recognized by an appropriate government agency. The detail included in the certificate is based on the findings of the survey and must be in compliance with the requirements set by the government agency. Many insurance companies require a valid flood insurance elevation certificate before they will prepare a quote for this type of insurance and extend the coverage to residential and commercial property owners.

The purpose of the flood insurance elevation certificate is to ascertain exactly how far above or below the flood plain the property happens to be. A flood plain is defined as the flat area located near a body of water that is subject to some amount of flooding from time to time. This data is important when seeking flood insurance, as it provides the insurance provider with some idea of the degree of risk associated with flooding of the property in question. Simply put, properties that are well above the flood plain are considered to be at a lower rate of risk and likely to receive coverage at lower rates. By contrast, real estate that is at or below the flood plain constitutes a greater risk to the insurer and will include higher rates for the coverage, if it is granted at all.


Determining the flood plain is usually the function of a governmental agency, making it possible for surveyors to use a consistent basis for evaluating the elevation of the property. This means that the detail found on every flood insurance elevation certificate uses the same basis for the evaluation. For this reason, insurance companies can rely on the data to determine the degree of risk associated with a given property, class it appropriately, and then issue a flood insurance quote to the customer that is based on reliable data.

While the guidelines for surveying property with a goal of receiving a flood insurance elevation certificate are straightforward, there is always the potential for some sort of error in the actual surveying activity. For this reason, property owners may wish to have more than one surveyor assess the property and report the results. Assuming the results of both surveys are consistent, the flood insurance elevation certificate can be issued and the data used to begin collection quotes from different providers who offer flood insurance.


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