Glossary of Terms

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

 The cost to replace an insured item of property at the time of loss, less the value of its physical depreciation.

Base Flood

A flood having a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE)

The elevation of surface water resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year. The BFE is 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.


Any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides.


A political entity that has the authority to adopt and enforce floodplain ordinances for the area under its jurisdiction.


The entity made up of the unit owners responsible for the maintenance and operation of the following: • Common elements owned in undivided shares by unit owners • Other real property in which the unit owners have use rights; where membership in the entity is a required condition of unit ownership.

Condominium Building

A type of building in the form of ownership in which each unit owner has an undivided interest in common elements of the building.


 An under-floor space that has its interior floor area (finished or not) no more than 5 feet below the top of the next-higher floor. Crawlspaces generally have solid foundation walls. See Diagram 8 in the Elevation Certificate Instructions.

Cumulative Damage Building

Any building that has incurred flood-related damage as a result of two or more flooding events in which the cumulative amounts of payments equals or exceeds the fair market value of such building, as determined through use of the following procedure. To determine whether a building has been cumulatively damaged, a loss percentage will be calculated, for each loss, equal to the claim payment amount for that loss divided by the fair market value of such building on the day before each loss. If the sum of the loss percentages for more than one loss equals or exceeds 100%, then the property will be deemed a cumulative damage building.

Elevated Building

A building that has no basement and that has its lowest elevated floor raised above ground level by foundation walls, shear walls, posts, piers, pilings, or columns. Solid (perimeter) foundation walls are not an acceptable means of elevating buildings in V and VE Zones.


That portion of an elevated building below the lowest elevated floor that is either partially or fully shut in by rigid walls.

Federal Policy Fee

A flat charge that the policyholder must pay on each new or renewal policy to defray certain administrative expenses incurred in carrying out the NFIP.

Finished (Habitable) Area

An enclosed area having more than 20 linear feet of finished interior walls (paneling, etc.) or used for any purpose other than solely for parking of vehicles, building access, or storage.


• A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder’s property) from: º Overflow of inland or tidal waters; º Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or º Mudflow; or • 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.


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

Foundation Walls

Masonry walls, poured concrete walls, or precast concrete walls, regardless of height, that extend above grade and support the loads of 

 a building.


An additional amount of height above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) used as a factor of safety (e.g., 2 feet above the Base Flood) in determining the level at which a building’s lowest floor must be elevated or floodproofed to be in accordance with state or community floodplain management regulations.

Grade Elevation

The lowest or highest finished ground level that is immediately adjacent to the walls of the building. Use natural (pre-construction), ground level, if available, for Zone AO and Zone A (without BFE).


An exemption based on circumstances previously existing.  • Under NFIP statutory grandfathering, buildings located in Emergency Program communities and PreFIRM buildings in the Regular Program are eligible for subsidized flood insurance rates.

HFIAA Surcharge

 The statutory surcharge imposed by Section 1308 of the Act. 

Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC)

Coverage for expenses that a property owner must incur, above and beyond the cost to repair the physical damage the building actually sustained from a flooding event, to comply with mitigation requirements of state or local floodplain management ordinances or laws. Acceptable mitigation measures are elevation, floodproofing, relocation, demolition, or any combination thereof.

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 (SFHA). A LOMA is issued only by FEMA.

Lowest Adjacent Grade

The lowest point of the ground level immediately next to a building.

Lowest Floor

The lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including a basement). An unfinished or floodresistant enclosure, usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access, or storage in an area other than a basement area, is not considered a building’s lowest floor provided that such enclosure is not built so as to render the structure in violation of requirements

Lowest Floor Elevation (LFE)

 The measured distance of a building’s lowest floor above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) or other datum specified on the FIRM for that location.

Masonry Walls

Walls constructed of individual components laid in and bound together with mortar. 

These components can be brick, stone, concrete block, etc.

New Construction

Buildings for which the “start of construction” commenced on or after the effective date of an initial Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or after December 31, 1974, whichever is later, including any subsequent improvements.

Newly Mapped (A Property Newly Mapped into the SFHA)

 A property that was once designated outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), and following a map revision, is designated within the SFHA. Property newly mapped into the SFHA by a map revision on or after April 1, 2015, and meeting certain loss history requirements is eligible for the Newly Mapped rating procedure outlined in the Newly Mapped section of this manual if coverage is purchased within 1 year of the map revision and continuously maintained. A property meeting the loss history requirements and newly mapped into the SFHA by a map revision effective on or after October 1, 2008, and before April 1, 2015, may be insured under the Newly Mapped rating procedure if coverage is purchased on or after April 1, 2015, but before April 1, 2016, and maintained continuously. The newly mapped procedure is not available for any property mapped into the SFHA by the initial FIRM.

Non-Primary Residence

A residential building that is not the primary residence of the policyholder.

Non-Primary Residential Property

Either a nonprimary residence or the contents within a non-primary residence, or both.

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 lower-cost Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP), written under the Dwelling Form or General Property Form. It offers fixed combinations of building/contents coverage limits or contents-only coverage. The PRP is available for property located in B, C, and X Zones in Regular Program communities that meets eligibility requirements 

 based on the property’s flood loss history. It is also available for buildings that are eligible under the PRP Eligibility Extension.

Primary Residence

A single family building, condominium unit, apartment unit, or unit within a cooperative building that will be lived in by the policyholder or the policyholder’s spouse for:

1. More than 50% of the 365 calendar days following the current policy effective date; or 2. 50% or less of the 365 calendar days following the current policy effective date if the policyholder has only one residence and does not lease that residence to another party or use it as rental or income property at any time during the policy term. A policyholder and the policyholder’s spouse may not collectively have more than one primary residence.

Repetitive Loss Structure

 An NFIP-insured structure that has had at least 2 paid flood losses of more than $1,000 each in any 10-year period since 1978.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV)

 The cost to replace property with the same kind of material and construction without deduction for depreciation.

Reserve Fund Assessment

An amount dedicated to the NFIP Reserve Fund as authorized by the BiggertWaters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12).

Severe Repetitive Loss Building

 Any building that: 1. Is covered under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy made available under this title; 2. Has incurred flood damage for which: a. 4 or more separate claim payments have been made under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy issued pursuant to this title, with the amount of each such claim exceeding $5,000, and with the cumulative amount of such claims payments exceeding $20,000; or b. At least 2 separate claims payments have been made under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy, with the cumulative amount of such claim payments exceed the fair market value of the insured building on the day before each loss.

Solid (Perimeter) Foundation Walls

 Walls that are used as a means of elevating a building in A Zones and that must contain sufficient openings to allow for the unimpeded flow of floodwaters more than 1 foot deep.

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)

 An area having special flood, mudflow, or flood-related erosion hazards, and shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) or Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) 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. For the purpose of determining Community Rating System (CRS) premium discounts, all AR and A99 Zones are treated as non-SFHAs.

Subgrade Crawlspace

 A crawlspace foundation where the subgrade under-floor area is no more than 5 feet below the top of the next-higher floor and no more than 2 feet below the lowest adjacent grade on all sides.

Substantially Damaged Building

A building that has incurred damage of any origin whereby the cost of restoring the building to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the building before the damage occurred.

Substantially Improved Building

 A building that has undergone reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the building before the “start of construction” of the improvement. This term does not include a building that has undergone reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement related to: 1. Any project or improvement of a building to correct existing violations of a state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications that have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or 2. Any alteration of a “historic building”, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a “historic building”.

Unfinished Area

 An enclosed area that is used only for the parking of vehicles, building access, or storage purposes and that does not meet the definition of a finished (habitable) area. Drywall used for fire protection is permitted in unfinished areas.


A grant of relief by a participating community from the terms of its floodplain management regulations.

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