Challenge a Flood Determination

For a majority of property owners who purchased their property prior to 1973, and plan to refinance, they should first check and obtain flood zone information for their property and take careful consideration. The floodplains were not subjected to flood insurance prior to the creation of the National Flood Insurance Program. Refinancing today would prompt a mortgage lender to verify flood insurance information and if your real property is in an applicable floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as determined by FEMA , mortgage lenders are required to impose flood insurance on your real property.

In some cases, a lender determines that a property is in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), however the property owner disagrees. One option is to verify your flood zone information at FEMA’s DFIRM and FIRM web sites (see Are You in a Flood Zone?) to obtain five pertinent pieces of information from the map; community number, map number, panel number, flood zone area applicable to your property, date map was revised and a printed copy of the FIRMette of your property. If your property is not in a floodplain or SFHA, send a letter of dispute with these pieces of information to your lender. If your property is in a floodplain or SFHA, you want to challenge FEMA's determination, see "Options A Property Owner Has To Potentially Remove The Flood Insurance Requirement."

Lending institutions use the FIRMs to make flood zone determinations and decide whether flood insurance is required. These institutions may or may not accept a determination made by representatives of the County of Orange. FEMA has established a list of companies that it considers to be qualified to make officially sanctioned determinations. This list is published on the FEMA web site.

Another alternative is to obtain a certificate of elevation and Letter Of Map Revision (LOMR) as outlined in this FAQ.

The vast majority of new homes constructed in unincorporated Orange County are not in a flood zone.

See Floodplain Contact Information for where you can view and get current information from the FIRM for your community.