Flood Zone AO is a high-risk flood zone that has a one percent chance of flooding annually. Often found near rivers and streams, Flood Zone AO may see floods that are one to three feet deep.
Flood Zone AO is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a designation that indicates a location with a high risk of flooding. Like most SFHAs, Flood Zone AO includes areas with a one percent chance of floods and 26 percent chance over a 30-year mortgage. Flood insurance is mandatory in SFHAs, including Flood Zone AO.
Floods in this Zone AO tend to be shallow and come in the form of sheet flow on sloping terrain where the water skims across the ground’s surface rather than being absorbed. Many areas designated as Flood Zone AO are close to coastal areas as well as rivers and streams where overflow is a risk during heavy rains and storms.
The base flood elevation (BFE) is the level surface water is expected to hit during a 100-year base flood – essentially, the one-percent flood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assigns BFEs to most, but not all, SFHAs.
For Flood Zone AO, coastal areas are mapped out using flood depths rather than BFEs, but BFE do appear on areas near rivers or streams. Flood depths range between one and three feet, and BFEs vary by location.
Homeowners in Flood Zone AO with a federally backed mortgage are required to have flood insurance. Federally backed or regulated lenders can only fund a mortgage if you have flood insurance, and they’ll impose a policy through escrow if you allow your coverage to lapse.
Knowing that it only takes an inch of water to cause some $25,000 worth of property damage should be incentive enough to look into a policy. While you may not be able to stop a flood from causing damage to your home, you can get the right coverage to pay for it.
You can purchase flood insurance through the federally run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), or you can buy it from a private carrier. The NFIP covers the vast majority of homeowners, it has a few disadvantages. First, the policy has a cap of $250,000 in dwelling coverage and $100,000 in personal belongings coverage. If you lose more than these amounts in the flood, you pay for the extra out of your own pocket.
Second, the NFIP policy has a 30-day waiting period before any coverage kicks in. This means any flood damage that occurs during the waiting period isn’t covered.
Private flood insurance is often a better option. For instance, our flood insurance endorsement has no waiting period and offers higher limits. When you get our flood endorsement, you can match its limits to the ones already on your homeowners insurance for Coverage A and Coverage C.
Adding a flood endorsement to your current policy can also make managing your insurance easier. You only have one premium to pay and only have one claims department to deal with if you have a loss.
Our flood insurance premiums average $400 a year for Flood Zone AO. By contrast, homeowners pay an average of $1,130 per year for flood insurance from the NFIP. The price for your policy depends on the coverage amount you choose, as well as your home’s elevation and location.
Taking steps to mitigate flood damage is a good way to keep your flood insurance premium more affordable. Here are some ways to reduce your flood risk:
The high probability of flood damage in Flood Zone AO means homeowners have to do all they can to protect their property. Combine these tips and quality coverage to make sure your home survives your area’s next flood.