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Changes to Preferred Risk Rate

Changes To Preferred Risk Insurance Policies
(Flood Map Issued October 19, 2001)

Many residents obtained a low-cost National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Preferred Risk Policy prior to publication of the October 19, 2001, FEMA Flood Map.  Insurance purchased prior to the imposition of the map had remained in the Preferred Risk Rate category and premiums continued at the same low rate each year upon policy renewal.  Many residents have been enjoying the same Preferred Risk Policy Rate for the last ten years.

FEMA disclosed that the Preferred Risk Policy was incorrectly applied in San Mateo.  The correct procedures allow a homeowner in the flood zone to purchase a Preferred Risk Policy for one year only if done at least thirty days in advance of the publication of the map.  The second year renewal migrates to a “Standard Rated” Zone X policy, resulting in substantially higher rates.  The NFIP began rating City of San Mateo flood insurance renewals using the corrected criteria in May of 2009.  Many property owners immediately were billed to correctly reflect the increased premium, while others are just being impacted now.

Insurance Coverage Options*
Property owners have options with respect to the flood coverage they purchase.  Most lenders only require that the building/structure be insured.  Coverage for personal contents is optional.  Removing contents coverage will result in a reduced premium.

Many flood policies are written with a standard deductible of $1,000.  Property owners can work with their insurance agents and inquire how different deductibles will affect their premium.  The highest deductible available is $5,000.  Selecting a higher deductible will lower the annual premium.

To see information relevant to the most current insurance rates:

For more information on flood insurance please visit, or call the FEMA Regional Planner line at (510) 627-7184.

For questions related to this information or any FEMA related topic, please contact Sheri Costa-Batis in the San Mateo Public Works Department at  or (650) 522-7334..

*The information provided on insurance coverage and options is not meant as a recommendation to homeowners, but rather is provided for educational purposes only.  Property owners should make decisions regarding their insurance coverage and deductibles based on their individual financial situation and their tolerance for risk.

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