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Flood premium reduction services - is it worth a try?

Original post made by Natalie G on Mar 4, 2008

I am sure many of us in Palo Alto received an offer in mail from Flood Premium Reduction Services, Inc to do a study (for $50) to determine if the property needs to be flood insured. They claim that depending on certain factors (drainage, construction type, etc) one might be eligible for eliminating or reducing flood insurance premiums. Has anyone used their services and been successful in reducing or eliminating flood insurance premiums? My mortgage company requires me to buy flood insurance which costs about $800 and I wonder if it is worth pursuing this.

Comments (16)

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2008 at 9:09 am

We didn't receive this ad though we live just inside a flood zone and live in a newer raised home. $50 sounds cheap for any professional service. That said, I have been puzzled why we have to pay this insurance considering we are just inside a flood zone and we have a newer raised house meeting whatever the modern requirements are, and no basement. Since it would take a lot to flood our home, I tried speaking with our homeowners insurance, the city, the mortgage holder, the national flood insurance program and still do not understand who is in charge!


Posted by Floodplain Manager, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Sounds like a possible scam to me. You need a professional survey to determine if you are eligible for a "Letter of Map Revision" (LOMR) to remove your property or structure from the Special Flood Hazard Area. The $50 is probably just for a screening of the flood maps. I doubt it includes a real survey. Survey crews cost about $250 per hour.

Palo Alto has a lot of information on Flood Zones and Flood Insurance on the web site. You should check that out before writing any checks.

Here is the Q&A:
Web Link


Posted by Lexi O'Leary, a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm

In response to the Floodplain Manager -

We would highly recommend you contact FEMA at 877-336-2627. Although FEMA cannot show partialism to our company, they are extremely familiar with handling and expiditing thousands of applications for LOMA's (Letters of Map Amendment), nationwide, directly from our company. We also invite you to contact the BBB @ 248-644-9100 for a clearer representation of our reputation. There are thousands of structures that are paying an innacurate premium whether it be inflated or not necessary. Our company prides itself in being one of the only companies who works on the structure owner's behalf with the NFIP, FEMA, the licensed land surveyor, the mortgage company, and the flood insurance provider in order to provide accuracy as well as peace of mind. We welcome any additional questions or scepticism that you may have.

Sincerely,

Lexi O'Leary/President/Founder
Flood Premium Reduction Services

In response to resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood -

FPRServices has the expertise and experience that allows us to work as a mediator between you, FEMA, NFIP, your mortgage company, as well as with your Flood Insurance Company. With the Preliminary Evaluation, we are able to research, in-depth, the possibilities of a reduction or an elimination as well as the full cost that would be associtated with placing accuracy. $50.00 is a conservative amount to pay to provide peace of mind.

Sincerely,

Lexi O'Leary

In response to Natalie G -

The mortgage company is required to follow Federal Guidelines when loaning Federal Funds. This means upon closing the loan, a flood zone determination must be completed. If the determination comes back positive, a Flood Insurance Policy must be purchased before the actual close of the loan can occur. At which point, you as the borrower, have the burden of proving the status of your situation if you disagree or dispute the placement of your structure in the Special Flood Hazard Area or the inflated premium you are required to pay. It will take FPRServices about 2 weeks to complete a Preliminary Evaluation, then a caseworker at our office will contact you to provide you with your options in order to reduce or eliminate your Mandatory Flood Insurance Policy, if you qualify.

Sincerely,

Lexi O'Leary


Posted by Natalie G, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm

To Mr O'Leary
Has there been a single case of successful reduction or elimination of mandatory Flood Insurance for a Palo Alto residence? If yes, I am willing to try.


Posted by Natalie G, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm

To Mr O'Leary
Has there been a single case of successful reduction or elimination of mandatory Flood Insurance for a Palo Alto residence? If yes, I am willing to try.


Posted by Lexi O'Leary, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 26, 2008 at 8:58 am

Natalie,

Please feel free to contact me at 989-724-6622 and ask directly for Lexi. If I am with a client or on the phone, I will call you back and share with you what I found, with respect to Palo Alto, CA. I would be happy to do this for you, at no cost, simply by sharing public information we have obtained and filed into our archives.

Sincerely,

Lexi O'Leary


Posted by Floodplain Manager, a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Natalie,

Please call Public Works @ 329-2151 and ask them if there are any LOMA's near your house. That will give you some idea of the chances for you to be removed from the requirement to have flood insurance. Also ask Lexi how much it will actually cost to apply for a LOMA.


Posted by CFM, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Floodplain manager has it right. I've had 2 experiences with Ms. O'Leary's company and both times they charged for a "service" that was available from free from our local public works office. In one instance a consumer paid for them to "research" for a LOMA when there was already one issued for the property in question over 4 years prior!!!


Posted by Edward Perez, a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Edward Perez is a registered user.

To: Palo Alto residents and all CA. residents located in the SFHA

The information that FPRS provides for a fee, zone determination, location in or out of a SFHA, LOMA/LOMR's issued in your community, cost of flood insurance, ways to reduce insurance or eliminate it, purpose of a FEMA EC, etc. can all be provided FREE of charge by your CA. Department of Water Resources State Floodplain Coordinator.

As a State Floodplain Coordinator we work with FEMA Region IX in Oakland and provide assistance to property owners, community officials, floodplain administrator's (FPA),lenders, insurance agents, real estate agents, etc. about the NFIP regulations and how they are to be implemented in the SFHA. We also conduct workshops throughout CA. to teach local FPA's and local licensed land surveyors and registered engineers about the NFIP program and how to accurately complete the FEMA EC.

Below is FEMA's Map Service Center link where you can look up the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)for your community by address or under the Product Catalog link. For each FIRM panel FEMA shows all the LOMA/LOMR's issued from January 1, 1997 to present free of charge.

Web Link

If you have any questions about the NFIP program or how the LOMA/LOMR process works, feel free to give me a call at (559) 230-3317 and I'll gladly answer your questions regarding floodplain management.


Posted by Bill Dukes, a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm

I used this service for my townhouse in Atlanta and got nothing from it. It cost me thousands of dollars and more in wasted time.

Call the people at www.floodsmart.com. They do not charge anything upfront and are very reliable. They got the cost of my flood insurance down to a reasonable level, but not from anything that was done by FPRS.

This company claims to have all these contacts yet when I called FEMA after I spent the thousands that agency had no comment on the company and the surveyor who was supposedly a preferred reference of theirs had never heard of their company. They must have found him in the Atlanta phone book.


Posted by Mark N., a resident of another community
on May 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I live in NJ along the shore and I did successfully use this company several years ago to cut my premium in half. Yes, $50 was the initial fee and it is a three step process if I recall correctly. This company did all of the research, ordered the surveys and filed all of the necessary paperwork. Long story short the total cost to me was about $500 but my $1100 premium was cut in half so it was a wash for that year. However since then I have saved at least $3k in premiums. It's definitely worth the $50 to check it out. Thanks Lexi!


Posted by Scott, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Do not pay $50 to someone to look at some maps on-line that are available to you for free.

If you are required to obtain flood insurance, your mortgage provider will inform you of that requirement.

Completion of an elevation certificate by a licensed land surveyor or civil engineer may be used to obtain a reduction of the flood insurance premium.

generally a certificate will cost about $650.00


Posted by jeff sychterz, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

FPRS is a total scam. Lexi can talk the chrome off your bumper.I am a victim of her lies,and so is my wallet. BE LEARY OF O'LEARY!


Posted by CFM and LOMA Analyst, a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

I have 16 years experience identifying and removing homeowners from the SFHA. In my years of experience I have seen many homeowners that have a difficult time understanding how this process works. I have experienced homeowners providing the wrong information repeatedly ultimately resulting in cancellation of the request for a LOMA, and or extending the process much longer than needed. I have seen homeowners go to the expense of an elevation certificate when it wasn't necessary because of a study in their neighborhood had removed them, or for other reasons they were not aware of. The services of a company like FPRS can speed up the process, avoid frustration, and potentially save money for those folks that have a difficult time understanding the process. I have also seen FPRS provide assistance to homeowners to get there premiums reduced or refunded because of errors in the maps, elevation certificates, and etc. The near seamless experience they provide can be well worth the expense and worth exploring.


Posted by Janet, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for your comments.
I just paid $100 to Flood Relief Specialists (the company)for a preliminary evaluation of my house. The preliminary evaluation result is nothing but a standard letter indicates next step fees will be charged. Here is the quote:
Phase I ($350) - Reduction: FRS will handle, navigate, and process all necessary
documents with all agencies involved in the Flood Insurance Program in order to place accuracy with your Flood Insurance Premium. FRS charges 25% of the Flood Premium refund amount secured. During Phase I, FRS will order an Elevation Certificate from a licensed Surveyor. The cost of the Elevation Certificate is $600 and is not included in our charges.This will need to be paid directly to your surveyor when invoiced.
Should I proceed, any comments? Thanks!


Posted by Ken , a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Hi Janet -

I just gone through FRS as well to assist me in potentially having the premium reduce or having it eliminated. It was recommended to me from someone that had gone through this process and had it successfully removed. I do understand this whole thing is a bit scary not knowing if this is a scam or not. I am on the same boat as you but I had taken the step to move forward with this process and hopefully I made the right decision.


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