100 Introduction
400 Mapping and Regulations


The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program that affords communities discounts on their NFIP flood insurance policies as an incentive for mitigation action.

CRS Overview

In order to be a member of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a community must adopt a floodplain management ordinance that regulates development in areas subject to flooding. The NFIP helps to protect buildings that have a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. These buildings are located in what is known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Buildings located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are subject to NFIP mandatory flood insurance requirements.

The Community Rating System (CRS) provides NFIP flood insurance discounts to communities that exceed these minimum requirements through enhanced floodplain management. These discounts are provided to communities that work to reduce flood damage, strengthen NFIP coverage, and enforce comprehensive floodplain management.

Community Rating System (CRS) discounts are dependent on the number of credits your community obtains for floodplain management activities. The table below details the Community Rating System (CRS) class, number of credits earned, and the corresponding discounts for insurable properties. Any properties within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) with federally-backed flood insurance are eligible for these discounts. Discounts for properties outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) but within your community are lower because those policies are already relatively affordable. Communities entering into the Community Rating System (CRS) begin at a Class 9. Class 1 communities receive the highest level of discount.

CRS Class Credit Point Discount in SFHA Discount Outside of SFHA
1 4,500+ 45% 10%
2 4,000-4,499 40% 10%
3 3,500-3,999 35% 10%
4 3,000-3,499 30% 10%
5 2,500-2,999 25% 10%
6 2,000-2,499 20% 10%
7 1,500-1,999 15% 5%
8 1,000-1,499 10% 5%
9 500-999 5% 5%
10 0-499 0 0%

Communities receive credits through a series of activities. These include 300 Public Information Activities, 400 Mapping and Regulations, 500 Flood Damage Reduction Activities, and 600 Warning and Response.

Participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) is voluntary, you don’t have to participate in it to be eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but many communities participate due to both the resilience benefits and the potential premium discounts. To participate, you should submit a letter to your state ISO specialist, who will forward it to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Regional Office. FEMA will check if your community is following the basic rules of the NFIP, and then a verification visit will be scheduled with your ISO Specialist to begin the CRS approval process.

How To Use This Guide

The CRS can be a daunting program to tackle. We wrote this guide to help you and your community make better-informed decisions about which activities to take on next. To do this, we've broken each element in the CRS down by several sections:

  • Overview: The element in broad sweeps -- what you need to know at a high-level.
  • Considerations: Some elements require specific municipal-level expertise, like mapping, and others can be politically challenging. This section covers considerations that you should weigh before investing time and energy into your CRS efforts.
  • Documentation: Documentation is often the most laborious part of participating in the CRS. Here you'll learn what you need to compile for verification visits and recertifications.
  • Credit Calculation: Determining how many credits your community could potentially receive for an element likely dictates whether or not you will complete it. This section demystifies the credit calculation sections of the manual.

As you peruse, you'll see that each element is assigned a difficulty rating. These ratings are meant to give you a generalized idea of relative complexity. Keep in mind that the difficulty level of a given element for your community could vary due to a number of factors including community size, political structure, and hazard exposure.

This Guide is meant to be a companion for the CRS Coordinator's Manual, not a replacement. We wrote it to act as a roadmap for CRS decision-making. Because we prioritized simplicity in our guide, you should refer to the Coordinator's Manual for detailed descriptions of elements, official definitions, and sample scenarios. If you have any questions or would like further clarification, please feel free to reach out to us at info@forerunnerflood.com!

This CRS guide was produced by CRS professionals and Certified Floodplain Managers to help you navigate the Community Rating System. It is not meant to replace FEMA's official CRS Coordinator's Manual, nor should it supersede the instructions given by your ISO/CRS Specialist.

For additional resources, visit https://crsresources.org/ .