Be prepared and adequately insured for floods — this tool aims to improve flood risk assessment beyond FEMA ratings

by Brianna Crandall — November 24, 2017 — HazardHub, a comprehensive provider of nationwide hazard risk data, has just released HazardHub Flood, which the company describes as a new and powerful assessor of a property’s overall flood risk. The data helps owners and managers of buildings and residences know whether they need flood insurance, the importance of which was recently proven by Hurricane Harvey and other events.

In the United States, flood assessment is usually left to the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA). While FEMA’s in/out assessments of flood zones are important, they can also be limited due to aged flood maps, political considerations and communities simply not participating in FEMA’s Flood zone analysis. HazardHub Flood provides an overall risk of flood regardless of a property’s FEMA Flood Zone rating.

HazardHub combines multiple, critical elements in creating the proprietary HazardHub Flood including the strength of potential flooding sources, elevation difference between the property and the potential source, base flood elevation (BFE) characteristics, and the distance to those sources. Also — if the property is near a shoreline — the flood model will capture the risk from hurricane-driven storm surge. The result is an unparalleled view to the likelihood of a property “getting wet” due to external water.

Brady Foust, chief science officer for HazardHub explains:

For too long there has been an over-reliance of FEMA flood maps in determining a property’s risk of flood. As we saw with Hurricane Harvey and other major flood events throughout the country, hundreds of properties that were marked as low likelihood of flood — or not even scored by FEMA — actually ended up flooded. Many of these same properties showed as very high risk of flood with HazardHub Flood.

In the 2010 Nashville Flood, there were approximately 12,230 locations inside of the flood perimeter. FEMA classified 6,261 properties as either 100- or 500-year flood zones (50.8%), while the HazardHub Flood Model found an additional 3,334 properties at high or very high risk of flood — capturing 53% more risk than FEMA alone, claims the company.

In a sample of 25,000 damaged properties from Hurricane Harvey, FEMA identified 12,215 (48.9%) as either 100 or 500-year flood zones. The HazardHub Flood Model identified 3,728 additional properties at significant risk of flood plus 782 more properties (at moderate to low risk for flood) that were exceptionally high for storm surge risk — an increase of 36.9% over FEMA-only estimates.

Bob Frady, CEO of HazardHub, added:

We at HazardHub want to take the politics out of flood zone determinations and simply look at what the data and science tell us. HazardHub Flood measures flood risk both inside and outside of FEMA flood zones, providing a clear and unbiased determination of a property’s overall risk of getting wet. We’ve integrated freshwater and saltwater risks. HazardHub Flood is the culmination of thousands of hours of effort and hundreds of gigabytes of data. We’re very excited to launch HazardHub Flood and prove its value to the flood risk market.

HazardHub Flood is available immediately via the HazardHub API or — for the analysis of very large files — via batch from HazardHub. To learn more, contact HazardHub.

HazardHub is a third-generation provider of property-level hazard risk databases spanning the most dangerous perils in the continental US. HazardHub translates huge amounts of geospatial digital data into easy-to-understand answers, providing easy-to-comprehend risk scorecards that are used to make real world decisions. The company’s team of scientists provide comprehensive national coverage for risks that destroy and damage property.