FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

THE ANSWERS YOU NEED

ServiceLink National Flood understands that navigating the Flood and Hazard Disclosure aspects of the mortgage industry can be daunting. That's why we're here to answer your questions.

What is a Flood Zone Determination, and why is this service needed?

A Flood Zone Determination (FZD) is an assessment of a property’s risk for flooding as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FZDs are made by locating properties in question on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) or Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FHBMs) published by FEMA and include such data elements as Flood Zone, Base Flood Elevation or Depth (if determined), FEMA Community and Map information, and the property’s eligibility for flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Federal Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 mandate that lenders determine the need for flood insurance by identifying mortgage properties on federal flood maps and ensuring that coverage is kept in force for the life of the loan. In addition, FZDs are utilized by flood insurance professionals to rate and write insurance policies, and by property appraisers to complete the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR). For more information on flood terms and their definitions, please see the Glossary of Terms.

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What are "flood zones" and what do they mean?

Flood Zones are geographical areas designated on FEMA flood maps that reflect the risk of flooding in the area. The following Flood Zones are considered Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) for which mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply:

  • Zone A - Areas of 100-year flood; no Base Flood Elevations determined.
  • Zone AE and A1-A30 - Areas of 100-year flood; Base Flood Elevations determined.
  • Zone AH - Areas of 100-year shallow flooding with flood depths of 1 to 3 feet (usually areas of ponding); Base Flood Elevations determined.
  • Zone AO - Areas of 100-year shallow flooding (usually as a result of sheet flow on sloping terrain) with flood depths of 1 to 3 feet. Includes areas of alluvial fan flooding; velocities also determined.
  • Zone AR - Areas protected from flood hazards by flood control structures, such as levees, that are being restored. Upon restoration of subject flood control structures, the AR area will be revised and shown as being protected from the 100-year flood; Base Flood Elevations/Depths may be determined.
  • Zone A99 - Areas to be protected from 100-year flood by Federal flood protection system under construction; no Base Flood Elevations determined.
  • Zone V - Areas of 100-year coastal flood associated with storm waves; no Base Flood Elevations determined.
  • Zone VE and V1-V30 - Areas of 100-year coastal flood associated with storm waves; Base Flood Elevations determined.

The following zones are not considered SFHAs and mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements do not apply; however, FEMA still recommends the purchase of flood insurance for these zones:

  • Zone B - Areas between limits of the 100-year flood and 500-year flood; certain areas subject to 100-year flooding with average depths less than one (1) foot or where the contributing drainage area is less than one square mile; areas protected by levees from the base flood. Also may be represented as "BX", or "Shaded X".
  • Zone C - Areas outside the 100-year floodplain with chance of minimal flooding.
  • Zone D - Areas in which flood hazards are undetermined.
  • Zone "NONE" - Areas in which flood hazards are undetermined and/or no NFIP map is published.
  • Zone X - Areas outside the 500-year flood plain; areas of 500-year flood; areas of 100-year flood with average depths of less than 1 foot or with drainage areas less than 1 square mile; areas protected by levees from 100-year flood. Includes non-shaded areas (equivalent to zone C and may be represented as CX) and shaded areas (equivalent to zone B and may be represented as BX).

For more information on flood terms and their definitions, please see the Glossary of Terms.

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How does ServiceLink National Flood perform Flood Zone Determinations (FZDs)?

SLNF completes all FZDs using digital and hard copy FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FHBMs) in conjunction with geocoding technology, street maps, tax and plat maps, and aerial and satellite photography. SLNF bases all FZDs on the location of each property’s insurable improvements.

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How long does it take to get an FZD?

Flood information is processed through our national flood certification database and returned in real-time in most instances. Flood zone determinations that are not completed automatically will be manually researched and are usually returned within 8 hours. A status update will be provided for FZDs not returned within 24 hours as notification of the reason for delay.

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Does ServiceLink National Flood guarantee the accuracy of FZDs?

Yes. Each flood zone determination is backed by an Errors and Omissions policy.

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How long has ServiceLink National Flood been in business?

ServiceLink National Flood was established in 1988. For more information about ServiceLink National Flood, please see the Company Profile.

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Glossary of Terms

100-year Flood - A flood event having 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year; also referred to as the 1-percent annual chance flood and the Base Flood.

100-year Floodplain - Boundary of the flood that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Officially termed the 1-percent annual chance floodplain. Also see Special Flood Hazard Area.

500-year Floodplain - Boundary of the flood that has between 0.2 and 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Officially termed the 0.2-percent annual chance floodplain.

Act - See National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA).

Base Flood - The flood having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE) - The elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Zones AE, AH, A1-A30, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1-A30, AR/AH, AR/AO, V1-V30, and VE that indicates the water surface elevation resulting from a flood that has a 1-percent chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year.

Coastal Barrier - A naturally occurring island, sandbar, or other strip of land, including coastal mainland, that protects the coast from severe wave wash.

Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 (CBRA) - For the purposes of the NFIP, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 designated certain portions of the Gulf and East Coasts as undeveloped coastal barriers. These areas are shown on appropriate flood insurance map panels and have certain coverage restrictions.

Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 (CBIA) - Enacted on November 16, 1990, the Act greatly expanded the identified land in the Coastal Barrier Resources System established pursuant to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982.

Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) - Communities, coastal barriers, and other protected areas identified by the Department of the Interior legislation defined above.

Community - Defined by the NFIP as any State, area, or political subdivision; any Indian tribe, authorized tribal organization, or Alaska native village; or authorized native organization that has the authority to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances for the area under its jurisdiction. In most cases, a community is an incorporated city, town, township, borough, or village, or an unincorporated area of a county or parish. However, some States have statutory authorities that vary from this description.

Community Number - A six-digit designation identifying each NFIP community. The first two numbers are the state code, and the next four are the FEMA-assigned community number. An alphabetical suffix is added to a community number to identify revisions in the Flood Insurance Rate Map for that community.

Community Rating System (CRS) - A program developed by FEMA’s Mitigation Division to provide incentives for those communities in the Regular Program that have gone beyond the minimum floodplain management requirements to develop extra measures to provide protection from flooding.

Elevation Certificate - A certificate that verifies the elevation data of a structure on a given property relative to the ground level; must be issued by a professional surveyor.

Emergency Program - The initial phase of a community's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. During this phase, only limited amounts of insurance are available under the Act.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - The federal agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with responding to, planning for, recovering from and mitigating against man-made and natural disasters.

FHBM - See Flood Hazard Boundary Map.

FIRM - See Flood Insurance Rate Map.

Flood - A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from one of the following:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters - Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
  • Mudflow - Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

Flood Disaster Protection Act (FDPA) - Act that made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for the protection of property located in Special Flood Hazard Areas.

Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) - Official map of a community issued by the Administrator, where the boundaries of the flood, mudflow, and related erosion areas having special hazards have been designated.

Flood Zone (Zone) - A geographical area shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map that reflects the risk of flooding in the area.

Floodplain - Any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.

Floodplain Management - The operation of an overall program of corrective and preventive measures for reducing flood damage, including but not limited to, emergency preparedness plans, flood control works, and floodplain management regulations.

Floodway - Channel of a stream plus any adjacent floodplain areas that must be kept free of encroachment so that the 100-year flood discharge can be conveyed without increasing the elevation of the 100-year flood by more than a specified amount (1 foot in most states).

Grandfathering - An exemption based on circumstances previously existing. Under the NFIP, buildings located in Emergency Program communities and Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map buildings in the Regular Program are eligible for subsidized flood insurance rates. Post-Flood Insurance Rate Map buildings in the Regular Program built in compliance with the floodplain management regulations in effect at the start of construction will continue to have favorable rate treatment even though higher base flood elevations or more restrictive, greater risk zone designations result from Flood Insurance Rate Map revisions.

Letter of Determination Review (LODR) - FEMA's ruling on the determination made by a lender or third party that a borrower's building is in a Special Flood Hazard Area(SFHA). A LODR deals only with the location of a building relative to the SFHA boundary shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map.

Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) - An amendment to the currently effective FEMA map which establishes that a property is not located in a Special Flood Hazard Area. A LOMA is issued only by FEMA.

Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) - An official amendment to the currently effective FEMA map. It is issued by FEMA and changes flood zones, delineations, and elevations.

LOMA - See Letter of Map Amendment.

LOMR - See Letter of Map Revision.

Mandatory Purchase - Under the provisions of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, individuals, businesses, and others buying, building, or improving property located in identified areas of special flood hazards within participating communities are required to purchase flood insurance as a prerequisite for receiving any type of direct or indirect federal financial assistance (e.g., any loan, grant, guaranty, insurance, payment, subsidy, or disaster assistance) when the building or personal property is the subject of or security for such assistance.

Map Revision - A change in the FHBM or FIRM for a community which reflects revised zone, base flood, or other information.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) - A federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.

National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA) - The purpose of the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 is to improve the financial condition of the NFIP and reduce federal expenditures for disaster assistance to flood-damaged properties. The act affects every part of NFIP, insurance, mapping and floodplain management. NFIRA also gives lenders tools with which to enforce requirements for flood insurance coverage mandated under the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973. Also referred to as the Reform Act and The Act.

Non-Participating Community - Community that is not participating in the NFIP. Non-participation may be the result of suspension, withdrawal or failure to join the program initially. NFIP flood insurance is not available in non-participating communities.

Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) - An area in a low to moderate risk flood zone (Zones B, C, X) that is not in any immediate danger from flooding caused by overflowing rivers or hard rains. However, it's important to note that structures within a NSFHA are still at risk.

Participating Community - A community for which the Mitigation Division Administrator has authorized the sale of flood insurance under the NFIP.

Ponding Hazard - A flood hazard that occurs in flat areas when there are depressions in the ground that collect "ponds" of water. The ponding hazard is represented by the zone designation AH on the FIRM.

Post-FIRM Building - A building for which construction or substantial improvement occurred after December 31, 1974, or on or after the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), whichever is later.

Pre-FIRM Building - A building for which construction or substantial improvement occurred on or before December 31, 1974, or before the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) - A policy that offers fixed combinations of building/contents coverage or contents-only coverage at modest, fixed premiums. The PRP is available for property located in B, C, and X zones in Regular Program communities that meet eligibility requirements based on the property's flood loss history.

Reform Act - See National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA).

Regular Program - The final phase of a community's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this phase, a Flood Insurance Rate Map is in effect and full limits of coverage are available under the Act.

Sheet Flow Hazard - A type of flood hazard with flooding depths of 1 to 3 feet that occurs in areas of sloping land. The sheet flow hazard is represented by the zone designation AO on the FIRM.

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) - A FEMA-identified high-risk flood area where flood insurance is mandatory for properties. An area having special flood, mudflow, or flood-related erosion hazards, and shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map as Zone A, AO, A1-A30, AE, A99, AH, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, AR/A1-A30, V1-V30, VE, or V.

Zone - A geographical area shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map that reflects the risk of flooding in the area. Also see Flood Zone.

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What risks or hazards does ServiceLink National Flood provide in the NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report?

The NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report provides information on the following six (6) mandated hazards:

  1. Special Flood Hazard Area
  2. Dam Inundation Area of potential flooding
  3. Very high fire hazard severity zone
  4. Wildland area that may contain substantial forest fire risks and hazards
  5. Earthquake Fault Zone
  6. Seismic Hazard Area

As well as the following supplemental hazards:

  1. Radon Gas exposure
  2. Airport influence area
  3. Megan’s Law disclosures
  4. Military ordinance

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Why NHDirect?

NHDirect is the perfect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report for successful real estate sellers. It is designed around the notion that sellers want straightforward facts disclosing natural hazards to potential buyers. ServiceLink National Flood engineered our Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement to make it easy to read, comprehend and provides the information in a concise, efficient report that can save 50% or more over the cost of other California Natural Hazard Disclosure products.

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What is a Natural Hazard Disclosure Report?

California Assembly Bill 1195 mandates that the six (6) required hazards be disclosed on a statutory form called the Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement (NHDS).

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Why is a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement required?

The Natural Hazards Disclosure Act requires that sellers of real property and their agents provide prospective buyers with a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement when the property being sold lies within one or more statutorily specified areas.

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What counties does ServiceLink National Flood provide NHD information for?

SLNF is a provider of Natural Hazard Disclosure Statements for all counties in California.

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How do I order a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement from SLNF?

NHDirect makes the order and delivery of Natural Hazard Disclosure Reports simple and efficient. We offer a variety of convenient as well as customized ordering options, including internet applications and EDI connections. SLNF’s online delivery platform is housed in a tier-one facility with redundant hot-site backup systems. Our world class data center meets or exceeds industry standards for both physical and network security.

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What do I receive?

The NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement is provided in a concise, efficient report that can provide substantial savings over the cost of other California Natural Hazard Disclosures. The NHDS has been engineered to be easy to read and comprehend. Our NHDirect report focuses on the essential ingredients required by law in addition to a few important supplemental hazards.

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Who needs to obtain a Natural Hazards Disclosure Report?

The Natural Hazards Disclosure Act mandates that all sellers of residential real estate and their agents must disclose nearby hazards to the potential buyer. The NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report meets this requirement.

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Who is NHDirect?

NHDirect is the perfect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report for successful real estate sellers. NHDirect is provided by ServiceLink National Flood, premier provider of origination- and default-related products and services to the mortgage and finance industries nationwide.

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Why choose NHDirect?

ServiceLink National Flood is the industry leading provider of flood zone determinations, a premier provider of origination- and default-related products and services to the mortgage and finance industries nationwide. With a storied history of success and longevity, SLNF is the overwhelming choice for those real estate agents, brokers, default or Title Companies that are looking for a stable, successful provider of Natural Hazard Disclosure Statements that has a proven track record and longevity.

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What Natural Hazards are required?

FEMA FLOOD HAZARD
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains maps delineating Special Flood Hazard Areas. A property lying within a SFHA in a participating community is eligible for low cost flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Properties identified to lie within the SFHA (usually A and V zones) are identified in the NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement.

DAM INUNDATION
Dam inundation hazards are areas affected by the failure of a dam or levee. While these areas are usually protected from flood by the dams and levees, in the case of failure due to earthquake or erosion, these areas become the drainage basin. The State of California Office of Emergency Services (OES) regulates areas of Dam inundation susceptibility. The NHDirect NHDS utilizes Inundation Maps for the entire state that are available via the internet from the OES web page. Maps can also be obtained from the individual counties themselves, however inundation areas often span multiple counties while maps are only available from the county containing the dam.

VERY HIGH FIRE
The State of California has mapped areas of high fire risk. Included are areas which are windy, dry, difficult to access or contain abundant fuel. Maps for High Fire Susceptibility are available digitally through the Department of Forestry and are used as the source of the information provided on the Natural Hazard Disclosure Report. Paper maps are also available or can be reproduced using the digital data.

WILDLAND FIRE
The California Department of Forestry Fire Protection Services is responsible for extinguishing fires in areas delineated as State Responsibility Areas. These areas usually contain large areas of rural, state-owned land containing grasslands, brush lands and forests. Generally, Federal land and incorporated communities are not included.

Maps for State Responsibility Areas are available digitally through the Department of Forestry and are the source material for the Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. Paper maps are also available or can be reproduced using the digital data. Areas not included in the State Fire Responsibility Areas maintain independent fire protection services.

ALQUIST-PRIOLO EARTHQUAKE FAULT ZONE HAZARD
In 1973, the Alquist-Priolo Special Studies Zone Act began the creation of the maps known as of January 1, 1994, as the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone Maps and are used in the NHDS. These maps were created to prohibit the location of most structures for human occupancy across the traces of active faults, preventing the hazard of fault rupture. In most cases the zones include areas within 600 feet of known active faults which displacement has occurred in the last 11,000 years. These maps are available through the Department of Conservation- Division of Mines and Geology. More detailed information is available from the state in Special Publication 42. The information in this publication is technical and provides specific information as well as an overview and history of the Alquist-Priolo acts.

SEISMIC HAZARD
Seismic Hazards are defined as areas subject to strong earthquake shaking, liquefaction, landslide or other earthquake related ground failures. In 1992, the Seismic Hazards Mapping Act was enacted which mandated the creation of Seismic Hazard Maps by the Department of Conservation - Division of Mines and Geology. These Seismic Hazard Maps include Liquefaction and Landslide Zones which must be differentiated on the Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement (NHDS).

LIQUEFACTION
Liquefaction is a phenomenon where soils, usually water saturated, exhibit water-like properties when subject to the ground shaking forces of an earthquake. Soils such as unconsolidated sands and silts are likely candidates to show effects of liquefaction. During liquefaction, soil is incapable of supporting structures. This causes structures to settle or sink and soil to boil up through cracks in the ground or pavement.

LANDSLIDE
Landslide areas are defined as areas which exhibit displacement during seismic events. These areas are often located on hillsides with grades exceeding 25 degrees and contain unconsolidated bedrock. These areas are delineated on the State Seismic Hazard maps and, like Liquefaction, must be reported specifically within the Seismic Hazard section of the NHDS.

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How long does it take to receive my report?

ServiceLink National Flood provides the NHDirect product using our streamlined product-ordering and delivery system, enabling us to complete and return most Natural Hazard Disclosure Statements in a matter of seconds. Those orders requiring manual research are returned in just a few hours.

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How do I order?

To get started with the NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report, talk to one of our representatives at 888.286.1340 or e-mail disclosureinfo@svclnk.com.

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Can I make changes to an order?

NHDirect customer service representatives are available from 7am – 7pm and are committed to being the most responsive and helpful in the industry. If there is an issue with a NHDS provided by NHDirect, do not hesitate to contact our customer service representatives.

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What is the tax portion of the report?

A California Tax Disclosure Report is also available as an additional product attached to the Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. The additional tax report discloses the current property taxes as well as any special tax districts that may have a significant impact on the annual tax burden.

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Can I order the tax portion separately?

The California Tax Disclosure Report is not currently marketed as a separate product, however in the future this report will be available independent of the NHDirect Natural Hazard Disclosure Report.

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Can I add the tax portion later?

Yes. The NHDirect customer service representatives can assist with problem or custom orders.

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Can I view my report online?

Yes, a registered NHDirect user can log on to the website and view a searched Natural Hazard Disclosure Report.

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What if I think my report is wrong?

If you believe there is a critical error in the provided disclosure, the NHDirect customer service representatives can be contacted and a compliance review will be conducted.

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OTHER RESOURCES

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FEMA MAP REVISIONS

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