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As with the “100 year flood”, the meaning of the term “500 year flood” is also often times misunderstood. Many people do not understand how it affects their structure as well as their flood insurance coverage.

The 500-year flood zone is used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100 year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.

Common Misconceptions about the 500-year flood

The Flood Insurance Requirement – On FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), the 500-year flood zone is designated as “B” or “X shaded” (AKA “X 0.2%”). When your structure is within this zone, flood insurance IS NOT REQUIRED by FEMA. This zone appears on the FIRM for informational purposes only!

Flood Insurance Availability – Flood insurance CAN BE purchased in the 500-year flood zone! While flood insurance is not REQUIRED by FEMA in the 500-year flood zone, it is strongly suggested. Being that there is an increased chance of flooding when you are in the “500 year(X 0.2%)” zone, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance to protect your investment. If one were to purchase flood insurance in this zone, it is considered a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s usually run the insured anywhere from 400-600 dollars per year.

The real chances of flooding – As with the 100 year flood, the most common misconception is that a 500 year flood is a flooding event that happens once every 500 years. The 500 year flood zone is a designated area that has a 1 in 500 (0.2%) chance of being met or exceeded in any given year. The 500 year flood would likely be more catastrophic than the 100 year flood which would be more catastrophic than a 20 year flood, etc.

Underestimating true risk – When your structure is within the 500-year flood zone, there is a 6% chance of being flooded over the life of a 30 year mortgage.  Precision and support are your best allies, that’s why we offer both with our superior reporting products and our flood resource center.