Would residents in your community like to see a reduction in federal flood insurance premiums? The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program that incentivizes communities to implement floodplain management practices that exceed the federal minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
By participating in the CRS program, communities increase resiliency to flooding events, develop long-term strategies for flood risk reduction, and yield lower flood insurance premiums for buildings. This results in safer communities and reduced flood losses. The program provides communities with credits for 19 floodplain management activities in the following series of four activities:: public information, flood hazard mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness. As a result of such activities, insurance premium reductions range from 5% to 45%.
Here are some tips for getting started with the CRS program:
- Ensure you are in full compliance with NFIP.
- Designate a staff person or outside consultant to take ownership of the process and serve as the lead contact for agencies.
- Develop a relationship with the ISO (Insurance Services Office)/CRS Specialists responsible for reviewing community requests for CRS classification and verifying implementation.
- Do an inventory of existing local programs, regulations, and policies that can easily be applied for certification credit. The Quick Check template is a useful assessment tool, as is the Getting to Resilience survey in New Jersey.
- Many state regulations and policies provide additional credit for municipalities seeking certification.
- Don’t try to get all the points at once! Identify a baseline and develop a timeline for implementing additional strategies. The program has re-certification requirements, and points can be added as new activities are initiated.
- Use the many resources online, including floodsmart.gov, crsresources.org/, and fema.gov.
- Keep careful track of all activities and make sure you document them in a manner that allows for easy updating each year.
The CRS point system is weighted towards non-structural strategies, such as land use planning, zoning ordinances, open space conservation, building codes, and flood warning systems – activities that many municipalities are already actively implementing. You may be surprised at the flood insurance reduction for which you already qualify for!