Community Rating System
Known as the CRS, the Community Rating System is a FEMA program that incentivizes a strong floodplain management program by offering discounts on flood insurance rates for all policyholders within that community. Communities can gain points by adopting various floodplain management activities. Total points correspond to different ratings (also known as classes), which in turn correspond to discount percentages on flood insurance. With ratings from 10 to 1 (10 being the worst rating and 1 being the best), communities can earn up to a 45% discount on flood insurance for all policyholders. With every rating improvement, discounts for policyholders in the Special Flood Hazard Area increase in increments of 5%.
Wetlands Watch released a report in March 2015 to assist local governments in participating in or improving their rating in the Community Rating System, how to get credit for activities that local governments already implement, and how to get credit for sea level rise adaptation activities. Click above to access the report
As of early 2015, twenty-three (23) communities in Virginia participated in the CRS. (Click here for a map and list of these communities in a zip file.) Several communities are in the process of working to improve their ratings. This will help those communities by providing better floodplain management and making floodplains safer, as well as providing discounts on flood insurance to every policyholder in those communities. The best rating held by Virginia communities is a 5, which earns policyholders in these communities a 25% discount on their flood insurance rates. Discounts are slightly lower for policyholders located outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area, but their rates tend to already be low. More communities are likely to join the CRS and increase their ratings if a lot of policyholders are affected by drastic flood insurance rate increases.
Communities can gain points in the CRS by participating in four categories of activities, including public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and warning and response. Activities such as keeping elevation certificates on file, having structures elevated out of the floodplain, more stringent building requirements such as adding freeboard, and pursuing public outreach can all earn points for a community.