The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Insurance Agency (FIA), and is a Federal program to make federally-backed flood insurance available across the country. The NFIP was created by the US congress in 1968 to try to address the rising costs of flood losses and flood-related disaster assistance across the country. The focus of this program is aimed at reducing the impacts of flooding on private and public structures through local community adoption of a minimum set of local land use regulations in FEMA-mapped floodplains and the availability of federally-backed flood insurance.
What Is the NFIP?
The NFIP is often referred to as a “three-legged stool”, meaning there are 3 different parts that help support the program – Flood Insurance, Floodplain Development Regulations, and Floodplain Maps.
When a community voluntarily joins the program, the NFIP makes federally-backed flood insurance available for all citizens in that community, whether they are a renter or a property owner. For more information about flood insurance, please visit FloodSmart.gov.
Typically, flood insurance is required if a person has a loan or mortgage on a structure that is located in the FEMA-mapped floodplain, and will be required regardless of whether a community participates in the NFIP. Flood insurance is also available to renters for coverage of their contents or to properties located outside of FEMA-mapped floodplains. It may be a good idea to consider the purchase of flood insurance if there is a history of flooding at your property or if you are located near a brook, stream, river or lake, regardless of whether it has been mapped as a floodplain by FEMA.
Floodplain Development Regulations
When joining the NFIP, a community agrees to, at a minimum, regulate land development that is located in the FEMA-mapped floodplain, known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This minimum set of regulations is intended to protect new structures and help to mitigate existing structures in the floodplain. It is not a program designed to protect water quality and floodplain functions. However, communities are strongly encouraged and supported to adopt flood hazard area regulations that help protect structures as well as floodplain function and minimize impacts to structures that are already at risk of flooding.
In order to support flood insurance rating and local floodplain regulations, FEMA provides floodplain maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) to help identify high-risk floodplains in a community. Maps made prior to 2007 were made on a town by town basis, while newer maps published after 2007 were created on a county-wide basis. The maps do not identify all floodplain hazards, though. The maps may be of varying age and detail, usually dependent on a community’s population at-risk from flooding. To find out more about the FEMA FIRMs, please visit (enter link to FEMA’s FAQs about maps), or to find a copy of your community’s most recent FIRM, please visit the FEMA Map Service Center, or the VT ANR Natural Resource Atlas.
How does the NFIP work in Vermont?
- Does my community participate in the National Flood Insurance Program?
- How can my community join the NFIP?
- My community is updating our flood hazard bylaws. Where can we find model bylaws?
- What is the Community Rating System (CRS)?
- How do the State Floodplain Managers assist communities?
Why participate in the NFIP?
- FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance
- Vermont’s Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) Program
- Flood Insurance
- FEMA Map Information Exchange (FMIX) and Map Specialists - to support map questions and applications for Letters of Map Change (LOMC).
- Letters of Map Change (LOMC) including Letters of Map Amendment (LOMA)
- FEMA Technical Bulletins
- VT Guide to Key FEMA Technical Bulletins