Time running out for flood insurance rate fix

WASHINGTON – Sept. 13, 2013 – Some U.S. homeowners who rely on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to cover their homes have discovered that their insurance premiums – or the premiums a buyer of their home must pay – have skyrocketed.

In response, a number of U.S. senators and representatives have floated ideas for bills that would ease the transition to the program’s ultimate goal over time: across-the-board flood insurance rates that are actuarially sound. But an immediate increase to actuarially sound rates could make it difficult for some homeowners to sell property or, in some cases, keep a home if their mortgage company requires flood insurance coverage.

With the next round of rate increases effective Oct. 1, time is running out for lawmakers to pass anything to ease some homeowners’ burdens, however. Different types of relief are being considered, but the politics required for passage can add additional hurdles to the process. It could be a stand-alone bill or attached to a larger bill, for example, and some of the larger bills in Congress right now are controversial.

In addition, flood insurance isn’t a hot-button issue for all lawmakers, though it ranks high with representatives from coastal states, such as Florida and Louisiana.

“We need ammunition to show our Congressional delegation the impact of this flood insurance change,” says John Sebree, senior vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors. “We must keep this issue in front of them.”

Sebree encourages Realtors to fill out the Florida Rate Questionnaire on floridarealtors.org and submit it to the National Association of Realtors®.

Mitigation

NFIP offers relief for some homeowners or communities. Links and more information can be found in the Flood Insurance Toolkit created by Florida Realtors Public Policy department. They include:

• NFIP Community Rating System: Offers discounts up to 45 percent for individuals in communities implementing floodplain management practices that exceed minimum NFIP requirements.

• FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program: Offers funding for eligible mitigation activities, including elevating properties, if it reduces disaster losses and protects life and property.

• Elevation Certificates: Shows a home’s height in relation to potential floodwaters. An elevation certificate could show some homeowners that they’ve been paying too much for flood insurance.

• FEMA Flood Map Appeal: If a property owner believes a FEMA map has incorrectly put his property in a flood zone, he can apply for a change.

flood sign© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.

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