Flood letter and elevation certificates are completely different products. Here’s a quick comparison of some of the major differences:

Flood Letters

  • Are performed by privately held companies (no relation with FEMA) whose main purpose is data collection and interpretation. Examples include: Corelogic, Servicelink National Flood or Certified Flood Systems
  • They provide an “educated opinion” as to the location of the property in relationship to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) using the data that they have compiled from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • The letter stating their opinion is typically costs around $10.00 – $15.00.
  • There is a disclaimer on the letter. One example is: “This determination should not be used for any regulatory purpose related to the making, increasing, renewing or extending a loan. No third part or person, including without limitation, property owner, lender, prospective purchaser, developer or builder shall rely upon this determination to make a decision on whether to purchase a property, purchase flood insurance, or write a flood insurance policy.”

Elevation Certificates

  • Are performed by Licensed Land Surveyors and Engineers.
  • Costs for Elevation Certificates vary and can range from $650.00 to several thousand dollars.
  • They provide information that is specific to the structure and property in question based on the information required to fill out the FEMA issued Elevation Certificate. It also provides technical data needed to determine if the structure is above or below the Base Flood Elevation (i.e. in or out of the flood zone)
  • There is no disclaimer on the certificate.


Hopefully, you now understand that a Flood Letter is merely an opinion and has no recourse by its provider. However, the Elevation Certificate provides accurate data that is used by insurance agents to determine flood insurance premiums.