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 more and more wet winters on the way, 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.

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.


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about Heidi

Heidi brings 11 years’ experience to her role as Esurance’s copywriting manager. Writer, editor, and all around wordsy, she was content when content wasn’t cool. Also, she likes old-school country.