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Key West Flood Zones & Insurance Explained

duval-street-floodFlood insurance is one of the most asked about topics in Florida real estate, especially in The Florida Keys and Key West.  Flood insurance requirements and premiums are dictated by the flood zone in which your property lies.

To understand flood zones you will first need to understand BFE; Base Flood Elevation.  BFE is a reference height for building elevations and flood insurance.  A building below BFE is a building below the flood level for that site.  Building codes require most new and Substantially Improved buildings be at a minimum height of BFE +1′.


Types of Flood Zones:

“A” Flood Zone:  These zones are more inland from the coastline, where a static rise in water levels can be expected.  This is the most common flood zone in Key West.

“V” Flood Zone:  These zones are close to the shoreline.  The “V” stands for “velocity,” or breaking waves with a force that’s considerably more damaging. As a consequence, building standards are much higher within “V” zones.

X Flood Zones:  These zones are areas where the elevation is higher than the minimum expected flood levels.  Buildings in these zones are not subject to enhanced building codes to prevent flood damage.  Flood insurance is available in these zones at a considerable discount. The elusive X flood zone is typically found in the Solares Hill and The Meadows neighborhoods of Key West.

*Note:  Type “V” and “A” zones appear on flood maps as “AE-#” and “VE-#.  The “E” denotes this flood zone has an elevation level assigned to it, and is expressed as “AE-6” or “VE-9,” with the trailing number indicating the Base Flood Elevation or BFE for that zone.  That BFE number notes the height above sea level flood waters can be expected to rise… at a minimum. For example, if a property falls within the flood zone “AE-6”, the structure would have to be elevated 7 feet above the BFE (6 feet as specified in the flood zone + 1 foot)

Don’t let flood insurance scare you, let me help you navigate the ins and outs of the insurance requirements for your Key West home.  I am a full time real estate agent with Preferred Properties, Contact me or 305-394-4073.

Source:  How to Read Flood Maps. Retrieved from

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