The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that recognizes and rewards community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum federal requirements through discounted flood insurance premiums.
Hillsborough County has been a participating community in the NFIP and CRS since 1980 and 1992, respectively. The County recently completed a three-year cycle verification visit in November 2019 and was informed by FEMA in October 2020 that its Class 5 rating would be retained. Class 5 communities receive a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums for residents located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and a 10% discount on flood insurance premiums for residents located outside of an SFHA.
This correlates to an annual savings of approximately $5.9 million in discounted flood insurance premiums for residents in unincorporated Hillsborough County. These savings are a tangible monetary result of the floodplain management activities that Hillsborough County staff implement daily to protect lives and reduce property damage.
See information on the Community Rating System and National Flood Insurance Program
CRS Verification & Classification
As part of the CRS program, the County receives a “class” ranking between one and 10 based on the implementation of 18 creditable activities, organized within the four categories below:
- Public Information
- Mapping and Regulations
- Flood Damage Reduction
- Flood Preparedness
The CRS Coordinator’s Manual is the guidebook for the CRS and sets the criteria for CRS classification. It explains how the program operates, what is credited, and how credits are calculated. Although it is primarily a reference for CRS activities and credits, it can also help guide communities that want to improve their floodplain management programs.
CRS communities, such as Hillsborough County, are required to participate in classification verification visits on three- or five-year cycles, depending on their class rating and/or total flood insurance premium discount received. These verification visits are conducted by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and the findings are provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for final approval. The County recently completed a three-year cycle verification visit in November 2019 and was informed by FEMA in October 2020 that its Class 5 rating would be retained.
Purchasing Flood Insurance
To purchase flood insurance, call your insurance company or insurance agent (the same person who sells your home or auto insurance). If you need help finding a provider, visit FloodSmart.gov/find or call the NFIP at (877) 336-2627.Plan ahead! There is typically a 30-day waiting period for an NFIP policy to go into effect unless the coverage is mandated, it is purchased as required by a federally backed lender or is related to a community flood map change.
CRS Credit Points, Classes, and Premium
Discounts to flood insurance premiums for residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County are awarded based on CRS class. Class 1 communities receive the highest discount, while Class 10 communities receive no discount. A complete list of flood insurance premium discounts is available on FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System website.
Renewing Your Flood Insurance Policy
When you renew your Flood Insurance Policy, please check the “Community Rating Number” stated on your policy. Should your policy indicate a Community Rating Number other than five (5), and you live in the unincorporated area of the County, contact your insurance agent in order to correct the error.
Because of the County’s Class 5 rating, residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County are entitled to a 25% discount for properties in the SFHA, and a 10% discount outside of the SFHA. Visit the Hillsborough County Flood Insurance Rate Map search tool to find your flood zone.
If your property is not in unincorporated Hillsborough County, contact your municipality or visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management website to find your CRS class and premium discount.
Lender Floodplain Determinations & Flood Insurance Requirements
Residents who apply for a federally funded mortgage/loan or refinancing on an existing home in flood-prone areas will be required to carry flood insurance for the life of the mortgage/loan. Generally, the only documentation that lenders will accept to change their floodplain determination is a FEMA Letter of Map Amendment.
Homeowners, renters, and business owners may visit FloodSmart.gov for NFIP resources and information. Resources are also available for real estate, lending, and insurance professionals on FEMA’s website.
Hillsborough County CRS Users Group
The Hillsborough County CRS Users Group is a support and educational resource for communities that participate in the CRS or who are interested in joining or learning more about the program. During the group’s quarterly meetings, attendees can share ideas, best practices, and hear from guest speakers about CRS-related topics. If you or your community is interested in attending a future meeting, please e-mail the Hillsborough County Floodplain Management Program Team at FloodplainAdmin@HCFLGov.net.
Resources & Training
CRS Coordinator’s Manual
- FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System
- FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Summary of Coverage
- FEMA National Flood Insurance Claims Handbook
- Small Communities in the CRS Fact Sheet
- CRS Training & Reference Materials
- Hillsborough County Flood Insurance Rate Map search tool
- CRS Community Responsibilities and Costs & Benefits to the Community