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Stormwater/Floodplain Procedures and Requirements

Flood Insurance: When Do You Need an Elevation Certificate?

Flood Insurance:
When Do You Need an Elevation Certificate?

Definitions of some common flood insurance terms:

Rating -
The cost for one year of flood insurance premiums. 
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) -
Federal program that makes flood insurance available to property owners in participating communities. The City of Lincoln is a participating community. 
100-year floodplain -
area that is flooded during the 100-year flood, which is the flood that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded during any year. 
Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) -
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) map showing areas of flood hazard (100-year floodplain) for a community. 
Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) -
term used to describe the 100-year floodplain as shown on the FIRM. 
Base Flood Elevation (BFE) -
refers to the elevation of the 100-year flood and can be determined for a specific property using the FIRM 

The elevation certification can be an important part of determining the cost of flood insurance. However, many structures don't require an elevation certificate to be rated. The following is a description of common rating situations and whether or not an elevation certificate is required to determine a rating.


If your home or business is in the floodplain and was constructed prior to 12/31/1974, it is considered to be Pre-FIRM. Pre-FIRM means it was constructed prior to identification of the FIRM, while Post-FIRM means it was constructed after this date.

  • This means it can be rated using tables based on amount of coverage required and whether or not the structure has a basement.
  • The rating is not based on any elevation and an elevation certificate is not required to rate a Pre-FIRM structure.
  • However, if it is more favorable to you, an elevation certificate can be used to rate a Pre-FIRM structure using Post-FIRM rates.


If your home or business is in the floodplain but was constructed prior to the identification of the floodplain on the FIRM for your area, it can be grandfathered for flood insurance purposes.

New Construction

New homes or commercial buildings constructed in the floodplain as shown on the FIRM are rated based on the elevation of the lowest floor of the building in relation to the Base Flood Elevation shown on the FIRM.

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Stormwater/Floodplain Procedures and Requirements