What is a COBRA Flood Zone?

What is a COBRA Flood Zone?

About a year and a half ago I wrote this post about the different flood zones and also one on flood insurance: Destin Flood Insurance – Do I Need it?

Many people get confused as to what a C.O.B.R.A. (Coastal Barrier Resources Act) flood zone is, so I thought I would explain further.

Keep in mind, that depending upon which flood zone the property is in, will depend on what type of flood insurance you can obtain. For example, I live in a flood zone “x” so I qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is also the Government Flood Insurance Program. Cost is about $365/year for up to $250,000 of insurance.

COBRA Flood ZoneCOBRA Flood zone as described completely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA:

“The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (COBRA) of 1982 and later amendments, removed the Federal government from financial involvement associated with building and development in undeveloped portions of designated coastal barriers (including the Great Lakes). These areas were mapped and designated as Coastal Barrier Resources System units or “otherwise” protected areas. They are colloquially called COBRA zones. COBRA banned the sale of NFIP flood insurance for structures built or substantially improved on or after a specified date. For the initial COBRA designation, this date is October 1, 1983. For all subsequent designations, this date is the date the COBRA zone was identified. COBRA zones and their identification dates are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

Communities may permit development in these areas even though no Federal assistance is available, provided that the development meets NFIP requirements.Now, what does all this mean to you? If you are interested in purchasing a home that has been designated as in a Cobra Zone AE zone, and you wish to obtain a mortgage, flood insurance is required….and you can not obtain a flood policy from NFIP. You must obtain private flood insurance, which can be very expensive.  In the Destin FL real estate market, there are many communities in a COBRA zone, so be careful.

When you find the home you want to purchase have your Real Estate Agent (me, lol) send the listing to an insurance company. They will let you know which flood zone the home is in.

Here’s another example…I have a Buyer purchasing a home which is in an “AE” flood zone. This means NFIP is available, it’s just a little more expensive. Since we don’t have an elevation certificate yet, the insurance provider gave a range from $400 – $1,500 per year. Once we provide them with an elevation certificate (a surveyor provides this) which determines the “base” elevation of the home, we can then get an exact cost of the flood insurance. The base elevation determines how high above sea level the homes sits, ie. 8′, 10′, etc. (The higher the better).

Another way to obtain the elevation is to go to the county Department of Growth Management to find your Elevation Certificate and where you are on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps. If in fact the home or commercial property is in a Cobra Zone, you will need to contact an independent insurance agent to get quotations for private flood insurance.

Please be aware private flood insurance is very costly, as opposed to National Flood Insurance Program offered for property in various other flood and non- flood zones.

For Cobra Mapping and other zoning information in Okaloosa county, click HERE. Once at the page, click on “Check for zoning and future land use”. For Walton county click HERE.


Debbie James

850 Properties
32 Hub Lane, Watersound, FL 32461

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