Floods can happen almost anywhere given the right (or wrong) conditions. In fact, according to Floodsmart.gov, all 50 states have experienced flooding or flash floods in the last 5 years.

But there are some places — namely flood plains — that are more likely to flood than others. With an El Niño winter predicted and higher-than-average rainfall expected in many parts of the country, here’s everything you need to know about flood plains, including how to tell if you live in one.

What is a flood plain?

Simply put, a flood plain is an area of land that’s prone to flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), an agency run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has 4 categories for determining flood plains and their associate risk.

The 4 types of flood plain zones:

  • V zones are the most hazardous and generally include the first row of beachfront properties. Flood insurance is mandatory in V zones.
  • A zones, the next most volatile, are subject to rising waters and are usually near a lake, river, stream, or other body of water. Flood insurance is mandatory in A zones.
  • X zones are minimal-risk areas where flood insurance is not mandatory.
  • D zones are areas that have not been studied, but where flooding is possible.

How to tell if you live in a flood plain

FEMA estimates that 20,000 U.S. communities are in flood plains and provides a website where you can enter your address to find out if you live in area prone to flooding. Using their online tool, you can see detailed flood maps of your home and surrounding property. Find out if you live in a flood plain.

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You can also visit FloodSmart.gov, the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and complete a Flood Risk Profile by entering your address. There, you can check out the risk level for your home as well as estimates on flood insurance. Complete your Flood Risk Profile here.

Do you need flood insurance?

If you discover you’re living in a flood plain, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate flood insurance. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood-related damages, but a qualified agent should be able to help you find the coverage you need. Learn more about flood insurance.

If you’re an Esurance customer, you can talk to one of our helpful experts anytime at 1-800-378-7262. We’re always available to help make sure you’re protected and prepared for an El Niño winter.

Related links

Tips for Before, During and After a Winter Power Outage

Preparing for Severe Storms: Dos and Don’ts

How to Flood Proof Your House

Flood Driving Tips

Safe and smart | Home safety

about Heidi

Heidi brings 8 years’ experience to her role as Esurance’s copywriting manager. As a bona fide lit nerd and sucker for anachronism, she spends her days trying to incorporate Hemingway, Frost, and Shakespeare into car insurance (with varying degrees of success).