Community Rating System (CRS)
The NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) recognizes, encourages, and rewards – by offering flood insurance premium adjustments – community and State activities that go beyond the minimum required by the NFIP to:
- Reduce and avoid flood damage to insurable property
- Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP
- Foster comprehensive floodplain management
CRS is a voluntary program, and provides for reductions of flood insurance premiums by 5 percent up to a maximum of 45 percent for policy holders with insurable property in flood zones located within CRS communities. The CRS recognizes 19 creditable activities organized under four categories: Public Information, Mapping and Regulations, Flood Damage Reduction, and Warning and Response. Download the CRS Coordinators Manual.
Communities can choose to undertake any or all of these activities. Based on the number of credit points received, a community earns a rank in one of ten CRS classes. Premium discounts range from 5 percent to 45 percent.
As of April 2018, 251 Florida communities participate in the CRS. On the map below, zoom in and click on a county, city, or town “dot” to see the community’s current CRS classification and discounts. Green means participating, gray means not participating, and red means a community was in the CRS but no longer participates. Click to see the data in spreadsheet form.
The Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) is FEMA’s CRS program management contractor. Four ISO/CRS Specialists support Florida communities. The Specialists work with communities to prepare applications and to modify documentation when new activities are undertaken. ISO’s CRS Program Coordination Team reviews applications and documentations and make recommendations to FEMA.
In June 2020, FEMA announced a new prerequisite for CRS communities to obtain or maintain Class 8 and better. FAQs on the prerequisites are on the CRS Resources page (click Manual). CRS communities must adopt and enforce at least one-foot of freeboard for all new residential buildings and substantial improvement and repair of substantially damaged residential buildings. The requirement applies to manufactured homes, dwellings, multi-family buildings, machinery and equipment, and attached garages and enclosures.
- Manufactured homes. Local floodplain management ordinances govern the placement and installation of manufactured homes. Most manufactured homes (and equipment) installed in flood hazard areas must be elevated to the same elevations specified in the FBC, Residential (which means at or above BFE plus freeboard). Most Florida communities adopted a provision that allows replacement manufactured homes in existing manufactured home parks and subdivisions (sometimes called “pre-FIRM”) to be installed on foundations that are at least 36 inches above grade. Many of Florida’s CRS communities already meet this requirement. Many of Florida’s CRS communities MUST remove the “36-inch option” to satisfy the Class 8 prerequisite. Download the SFMO guidance and instructions to prepare draft ordinances to Remove 36-Inch Option or to specify that manufactured homes are Not Permitted. The SFMO must review drafts at least 30 days before first reading (see instructions).
- Dwellings. Effective with the 6th Edition Florida Building Code, Residential volume, all Florida communities require at least one foot of freeboard for one- and two-family dwellings. See R322.2.1 (Zone A/AE other than Coastal A Zones) and R322.3.2 (Zone VE and Coastal A Zone). CRS communities do NOT need to do anything to satisfy this part of the Class 8 prerequisite. Excerpts of the flood provisions of the FBC, Residential (look under Florida Building Code Resources).
- Multi-family buildings. Effective with the 2010 Edition of the Florida Building Code, Building volume, which references ASCE 24 for buildings in flood hazard areas, all Florida communities require at least one foot of freeboard for multi-family residential buildings. CRS communities do NOT need to do anything to satisfy this part of the Class 8 prerequisite. Highlights of ASCE 24 (look under Florida Building Code Resources).
- Machinery and equipment. Compliance with the FBC requirements for machinery and equipment satisfies the CRS Class 8 prerequisite. FBC, Residential R322.1.6 requires machinery and equipment to be elevated to or above the same elevation required for dwellings. An exception to this allows equipment below if it is designed “to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components.” This means equipment itself must be resistant to flooding – it does NOT permit techniques considered dry floodproofing to be used to protect machinery and equipment (e.g., inside a walled area designed to be watertight). CRS communities do NOT need to do anything to satisfy this part of the Class 8 prerequisite. However, care should be taken during plan review, inspection, and review of final Elevation Certificates show machinery and equipment are elevated.
- Attached garages and enclosures. The FEMA/CRS FAQs for the Class 8 prerequisite state that the freeboard requirement does apply to attached garages. The SFMO clarified with FEMA/CRS the intent is that attached garages (and enclosures below elevated buildings) comply with the requirements for enclosures even if the slabs/floors of attached garages and enclosures is at or above the BFE, but below the BFE plus 1 foot freeboard. The SFMO prepared illustrated guidance to explain that the slab/floor of an attached garage or enclosure becomes the lowest floor if the garage/enclosure does not comply with FBC requirements for enclosures (including openings), in which case the building’s lowest floor does not comply with the FBC elevation requirement.
The SFMO recommends that communities drafting ordinances to satisfy the CRS Class 8 prerequisite also include FEMA-approved ordinance provisions for at-grade, wet floodproofed accessory structures and certain agricultural structures (by variance), if applicable. Guidance is available under Community Resources, look under Local Floodplain Management Ordinances.
State CRS staff is available to help communities understand the CRS, identify eligible activities, review prerequisites, adopt requirements for new activities, understand the process to seek credits for new activities, and the application process.
The State Floodplain Management Office supports communities in several ways:
- Help CRS communities to maintain or improve CRS class ratings.
- Support Florida’s several locally-organized regional CRS User Groups by providing technical assistance and making presentations on specific topics and activities requested.
- Offer CRS training in conjunction with Florida Floodplain Managers Association (FFMA).
- Work with ISO to verify State-Earned Credits available to all CRS communities based on Florida’s unique standards, regulations and codes.
- Provide timely Florida-specific CRS news through email blasts and digital newsletters.
- Provide “What If” statements that show community-specific discounts for all CRS classes, showing how citizens would benefit if communities undertake more eligible activities.
- Help communities obtain NFIP claims data to support Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) and Repetitive Loss Area Analysis (RLAA) planning efforts.
- Conduct reviews for communities not in the CRS to determine whether they will achieve the minimum 500 points for enrollment and help prepare initial CRS applications.
CRS communities must obtain FEMA Elevation Certificates for new construction and when buildings are substantially improved or repaired after incurring substantial damage. Communities must review and retain Elevation Certificates (see CRS Elevation Certificate Checklist) for new construction and substantial improvements. ISO/CRS Specialists request copies of some or all Elevation Certificates for review during periodic Cycle Visits.
CRS communities must be in full compliance with NFIP minimum requirements and locally-adopted higher standards credited under CRS. If FEMA determines a community is not fully compliant, it may be retrograded to a CRS Class 10 (i.e., no longer participating in CRS) and flood insurance premium discounts previously awarded to NFIP policy holders in the community will no longer apply.
Interested in Achieving a Better Class?
Contact SFMO CRS Staff to get a “What If” statement that shows the premium discounts based on the number of policies for better CRS classes. Review the CRS Coordinators Manual and consider undertaking new activities and adopting additional higher standards. Check the Florida Building Code Resources and Local Floodplain Management Ordinances pages for guidance on higher standards and request ordinance assistance at email@example.com.
CRS Annual Recertification
CRS communities must certify each year that they continue to perform the floodplain management activities credited under the CRS. Communities in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties recertify by February 1 and other communities recertify on May 1. ISO/CRS Specialists send communities lists of credited activities for certification. Additional documentation must be submitted for some activities, such as copies of annual reports, annual publicity of services offered, and copies of outreach projects.
CRS Cycle Verification Visits
ISO/CRS Specialists conduct cycle verification visits every five years for Class 6–9 communities and every three years for Class 1–5 communities. During visits, Specialists verify that CRS credited activities continue to be implemented and may request documentation.
The SFMO prepared three rack cards for community outreach to residents and property owners in flood zones. The cards cover 5 of the 6 priority topics in Activity 330. Twenty-five outreach activity points are available if the cards are displayed at 5 locations in a community.
Every Florida community can benefit from joining the CRS. Not only will NFIP flood insurance policy holders benefit from premium discounts, but long-term reduction in damage is a tangible outcome. Most communities already implement some standards and activities that are eligible for CRS credit.
To join the Community Rating System, communities must:
- Designate a CRS Coordinator who has the time and resources to undertake the application process and maintain certification once accepted into the program. CRS Coordinators should have full support of community leadership.
- Be in full compliance with the minimum requirements of the NFIP, determined by a Community Assistance Visit conducted by staff of the State Floodplain Management Office or FEMA Region IV.
- Work with ISO/CRS Specialists during a visit to review the CRS application and documentation; after successful completion of the visit, the Specialist recommends the CRS class rating.
- Require FEMA Elevation Certificates to document elevations of all new buildings and substantial improvements.
- Maintain flood insurance coverage on all community-owned buildings in flood zones.
- Take specific actions specified in the CRS Coordinator’s Manual if there are Repetitive Loss Properties in the community. Repetitive loss properties have had two or more claims of more than $1,000 paid by the NFIP within any 10-year period since 1978.
- If delineated by FEMA on flood maps, maintain the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA) on the published Flood Insurance Rate Map.