Flood Insurance

FEMAWay back in 2001 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rewrote their flood zone maps and included the Shoreview and Sunnybrae neighborhoods in San Mateo…and as a result the residents there were forced to purchase flood insurance. FEMA conducted studies that concluded some risk for flooding could come from Bay tidal flows or from four or more streams carrying rain runoff through San Mateo and down to the Bay. As you can imagine, there was plenty of grousing. I sold a 89 year old lady’s home on 16th Avenue in Sunnybrae at that time and her house actually backed up onto San Mateo Creek. She was the original owner and had been in the home for over 50 years. She had no report of any pesky water intruding onto her yard at any time during her occupancy.

FEMA is again rewriting the maps and the word is that it will include Foster City by 2009. At issue appears to be the strength of the levee system that’s technically in San Mateo itself. The City of Foster City is attempting to work this out with both FEMA and San Mateo but it’s very possible that flood insurance could be mandatory in the future. Here’s what will happen: after FEMA etches this in stone your lender will be quick to react. You’ll receive a written notice that you’ll be required to carry, in addition to your current homeowners policy, a flood insurance policy. FEMA will offer a policy to you but it’s a great idea to contact your current homeowner carrier to see what they have to offer.

There’s an initial period of time when you’ll be able to purchase this insurace at a big discount. In San Mateo in 2001 it ranged from around $300.00 a year if you got in early to over $1000.00 if you didn’t. It’s my understanding that if you buy it early you’ll keep the lower rate going forward. Obviously it’ll be a good idea to stay in touch with your insurance professional to act early and to stay current on this situation as it effects so many Foster City residents. I promise to follow it closely too and blog about any changes. Here’s a link to a recent story about this fun topic:



  1. I was really wondering about this, as I consider living in F.C.
    Living with all that water -global warming issues- : ) Thank you for addressing this topic!!

  2. Jennifer Minkey-Selvitella says:

    As a resident of Foster City for over (gulp) 30 years, and a member of the Insurance industry for over 14 years, I feel I can intelligently comment on the possibility of the potential for FEMA mandated flood insurance in our beautiful city.

    I have had many people ask me about this topic, many of whom live in areas of San Mateo, and more recently the Sacramento area, who feel the likelihood of their homes being damaged by a flood as likely as a snow storm, yet they are paying for flood insurance every year. Why is this?

    Well, to simplify, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), determines flood zones/flood maps. FEMA’s job is to help insure that certain areas are prepared for and able to respond to disasters, whether natural or manmade. There are a variety of flood zones (you can view these on FEMA’s website: http://www.fema.gov). Each zone has a determination as to the likelihood of a flood happening in a particular area. Obviously, the greater the likelihood, the greater the likelihood that you will be required to purchase flood insurance.

    As of right now, Foster City is in Zone X. Essentially, this means we are outside of a flood hazard area, and thereby, at this time, no one owning property here is required to carry flood insurance. This is not to say that FEMA, won’t re-do their flood zones, and our current zone X could change to one requiring flood insurance. There are rumblings from people in the know, that this could be the case. We do know that FEMA will definitely release new flood maps for San Mateo County, we just are not certain as to what possible changes they may have. I have heard that the city is saying Foster City will not be affected…..

    In the event this information turns out to be wrong (gasp), what will this mean to you if you are a property owner in this fair city? Well, all lenders will be quick to react. You will receive written notice that you are now required to carry, in addition to your current homeowner’s insurance policy, a flood insurance policy. FEMA will offer you a policy to purchase, but I highly would encourage you to contact your current homeowner carrier and see what they have to offer.

    In my experience, there is an initial period of time, when you can purchase a flood policy at a discounted rate. If you do not take advantage of this, the rates will more than double. I have had this happen to many of my customers, who for one reason or another (usually they think they can outrun the requirement, their lender won’t find out, etc.) choose to wait it out. They are not very happy when they finally have to buy it and then find out they could have purchased if for half the price.

    If you are paying an insurance agent/company for your homeowner’s policy, let them earn their money and do what they are trained to do; guide you and provide you with insurance advice and information.

    Or even better…you can call me! I’m with State Farm and my number is 650-827-1969

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