CRS Program

Community Rating System (CRS) Overview

What is CRS?

National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System

The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.  As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS:

  1. Reduce flood damage to insurable property;
  2. Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP, and
  3. Encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

The objective of the Community Rating System (CRS) is to recognize and reward communities that are doing more than meeting the minimum NFIP requirements to help their citizens prevent or reduce flood losses. The CRS also provides an incentive for communities to initiate new flood protection activities.

CRS Fact Sheet

For a quick overview of the CRS program, link to the CRS Fact Sheet.

How to Apply: Application Letter of Interest & CRS Quick Check

To begin the application process for a CRS classification, communities must submit a letter of interest to their FEMA Regional Office and document that they are implementing floodplain management activities that warrant at least 500 CRS credit points.

The application is submitted to the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO)/CRS Specialist.  ISO works on behalf of FEMA and insurance companies to review CRS applications, verify communities’ credit points, and perform program improvement tasks.

The CRS Application Letter of Interest and CRS Quick Check document provide communities with a sample letter of interest.  In addition, a community can use the “CRS Quick Check” tool for documenting their current activities and calculating their possible CRS credit points.  Instructions are provided within the document.

Using Google Earth to Map

The “Stay Dry” utility allows you to use Google Earth (TM) to view basic flood hazard information from FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) for a community or an address.  You can view flood hazard zones, cross sections and labels, community names and boundaries, Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) numbers and boundaries, and Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) case numbers and boundaries.

To use the application, you must have Google Earth installed on your computer, a high-speed Internet connection, and the Stay Dry kmz file. The kmz file is available through FEMA’s Map Service Center at

Learn more, link to  

FEMA Launches New

April 2018

FEMA launched the first phase of the new website.  The updates to incorporates social science and website usage research as well as best practices for a streamlined and customer-centric experience.  The next phase of the website launch will include insurance agent toolkits, social media templates, marketing tools, and flood map change toolkits.

CRS and the Post-Disaster Setting … Major Flooding Brings Change to CRS Communities 

October 2017

Any community CRS Coordinator that has experienced a major flood knows first-hand about the all-consuming reorientation of community priorities as the community responds to the immediate needs of its residents, helps in recovery, and undertakes mitigation opportunities.  The CRS program recognizes the demands upon the CRS Coordinator during these times, and has prepared this fact sheet to highlight common CRS themes that arise during the recovery after a major flood.

To help local CRS Coordinators better grapple with the post-disaster environment in which they and their communities find themselves, the CRS produced a Fact Sheet, Considerations for CRS Coordinators after a Major Flood.  The three-page summary reminds CRS Coordinators that community priorities typically shift after a major flood or other disaster—sometimes only for the short term but often for longer periods.  Some communities implement their strict building standards with more vigor in the wake of a flood; others decide that different issues must take priority.  And, personnel and other resources necessarily must be re-allocated.

Annual Recertification Dates for CRS Communities

July 2017

This summer/fall, the CRS program will be implementing new annual recertification dates for CRS communities which will include a centralized collection and review of recertification submittal documents and Elevation Certificates (ECs).  All CRS communities are required to recertify annually however the recertification deadline dates will now vary by state.  In addition, communities that have cycled under the 2013 CRS Coordinator’s Manual (Manual) are required to submit a Permit List and all ECs collected for the previous year with their annual recertification.

Kentucky’s CRS Annual Recertification schedule is May 1.  Recertification packages will go to communities approximately 45 days before the due date.

Centralized EC Review Process

The CRS Resource Specialists will also be processing the ECs collected at cycle verification visits starting January 1, 2018.  ISO has also developed a work and communication flow for the cycle visit EC review process as they work with communities to meet the required verification threshold of 90% correct.  Note that at annual recertification, the centralized review of ECs is a courtesy review to identify problems with the ECs.  Results of the review will be sent to the community, with a copy to the ISO/CRS Specialists.  This process allows the community time to have the ECs corrected by the next verification cycle visit.  The 90% threshold must be met only at the cycle verification visit.

2017 Edition of CRS Coordinator’s Manual 

The CRS Coordinator’s Manual is the guidebook for the CRS and sets the criteria for CRS credit and classification. It explains how the program operates, what is credited, and how credits are calculated. Although it is primarily a reference for CRS activities and credits, it can also help guide communities that want to design or improve their floodplain management programs.

Download the 2017 Coordinator’s Manual

Remember . . .

Communities do not need to change their preparation for the next verification visit.  Just get ready as you always do.  A community’s coverage under the new edition will be phased in and the ISO/CRS Specialist will work with the community to spot any different documentation or other changes that will apply in the future.

Changes from previous editions will be marked with vertical bars in the margins of the pages of the 2017 Coordinator’s Manual.  This will help you spot places that you may want to review, to see if the change affects your community.

More about What’s New

  • The CRS has always credited mapping and regulations that account for future conditions and for sea level rise. The 2017 Coordinator’s Manual establishes a sea level rise standard for crediting communities that assess and manage the changes anticipated from changing sea levels.  The CRS has chosen to require, at a minimum, that communities use the “intermediate-high” projection for 2100, from the report Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the U.S. National Climate Assessment.  This report was published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office in collaboration with 10 federal and academic science institutions.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website offers a Sea-Level Change Curve Calculator that communities can use for purposes of CRS credit.  Website links and instructions for determining the sea level rise for a community will be available on and on
  • The frequency of cycle visits for some communities will be changing, for the first time in the history of the CRS.  In 2010, as part of the implementation of the CRS Strategic Plan, the CRS Task Force began considering whether the total dollar discount provided to a CRS community should be a consideration in determining the frequency of CRS credit verification.  Subsequent research at East Carolina University that explored CRS verification methods recommended putting more verification emphasis on communities with larger dollar discounts.
    • Beginning with the 2017 Coordinator’s Manual, those communities receiving the top 10% of premium discount dollars, along with the Class 1–4 communities, will be verified every 3 years.  All other communities will be verified every 5 years.  This change will be phased in over the next 5 years.  There will be no change to the timing of your next cycle visit.
  • Credit for channel debris removal (CDR) will no longer be a prerequisite for all other credit under Activity 540 (Drainage System Maintenance). This is part of a subtle re-alignment of credit under this activity, in response to the recognition that capital improvement programs for drainage (credited as CIP) and maintenance of problem sites (credited as PSM), for example, are important to all communities—regardless of whether their drainage system is “natural,” underground, engineered, or a combination—and thus should be eligible for CRS credit.

This will provide more flexibility to communities to address their drainage-related flood problems and still qualify for CRS credit.  Now, communities can receive credit for any combination of the elements of Drainage System Maintenance, without having credit for channel debris removal.  CDR credit will still be a prerequisite for stream dumping regulations (SDR) credit.

  • CRS Category C repetitive loss communities are being re-defined as those with 50 or more repetitive loss properties (compared to 10 or more such properties previously). Under the 2017 definition, there will be fewer Category C communities.  The 2017 Coordinator’s Manual clarifies that Category C communities must either prepare and adopt a Repetitive Loss Area Analysis (RLAA) for all repetitive loss areas, or prepare and adopt a floodplain management plan (FMP) that includes a problem assessment of all repetitive loss areas and a review of flood insurance claims.  You can find details about the FMP planning in Section 512.a of the 2017 Coordinator’s Manual, and about the RLAA in Section 512.c.

This is not a completely new idea, because Category C communities usually conduct these sorts of plans and assessments for their repetitive loss properties.  However, many floodplain management plans and/or disaster mitigation assistance plans currently do not meet the requirements of CRS Activity 510 Floodplain Management Planning Step 5(c).  Going forward, all Category C communities that do not produce a RLAA will have to earn full credit in Planning Step 5(c) for FMP.

Your ISO/CRS Specialist will work closely with your community to explain what is required in your particular situation.  The change will have a phase-in period of up to nine years, since the CRS verification cycle runs every 3 to 5 years, and FMP and disaster mitigation assistance plans require updates every 5 years.  If your community is a Category C community and has a CRS visit next year, for example, but your disaster mitigation assistance plan that receives CRS credit is not due for an update until the following year, then your plan will be verified under the previous Coordinator’s Manual.

Important Links for Additional CRS Information

New Communities click here to find the CRS application and Quick Check.

Community Rating System Webinars

The CRS Webinar Series provides training opportunities.  The Series includes basic introductory sessions and more advanced topics, most averaging about an hour in length.

The CRS Webinar Series provides training opportunities to communities that are not yet participating in the Community Rating System or local government staff that are new to the CRS, and to local government staff with experience in the CRS.  The Series includes basic introductory sessions and more advanced topics, most averaging about an hour in length.

All classes 1:00 pm Eastern

Registration:  Click here and type “CRS” in the search field to view webinars that are now open for registration.

Emergency Management Institute CRS Courses

New CRS coordinators are encouraged to attend the 4-day CRS class (E278).

CRS training opportunities are offered throughout the year at the FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI).  The course is free, and travel expenses are covered for those accepted to the EMI.

Click here for course information and schedules (download the schedule and search for E278).

NFIP/CRS Newsletters

The CRS Update Newsletter is a publication to provide local officials and others interested in the CRS with news they can use.

Sign up for CRS email updates.

Follow the links.

KAMM mailing address: KAMM, PO Box 1016, Frankfort, KY 40602-1016.

Have questions, contact us at  Don’t forget to join the KAMM group on LinkedIn.