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Flood insurance rates set to change as FEMA revamps program

Flood risk calculation set to change
Tropical Weather Atlantic
Posted at 3:20 PM, Sep 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — Whether it was flooding in Texas earlier this week because of Tropical Storm Nicolas or Hurricane Ida's destruction which stretched from neighborhoods in Louisiana to interstates in the Northeast, the last few weeks have shown why flooding is such a risk to Americans.

In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding is the most common and most expensive natural disaster in our country.

And you don't have to live on the coasts to be at risk.


While all this flooding may have you thinking about flood insurance, Congress is thinking about it for other reasons.

The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire on Oct. 1.

While Congress is expected to extend the program, the bigger impact on your life may be the changes FEMA wants to make to flood insurance policies, changes that will likely impact rates.

Currently, policies are based on a home's elevation and whether it has a 1% annual chance of flooding.

Starting Oct. 1, factors such as the history of flooding, frequency of heavy rainfall, as well proximity to a water source will be factored in.

The numbers mean what you pay will be changing.

FEMA estimates around 73% of current policyholders will pay between $1-$20 more per month

It's expected 4% of existing policyholders will see price hikes of more than $20 a month.

But FEMA also says around 23% of flood insurance plans will be cheaper, an acknowledgment that some Americans have been paying too much for years.

"It all depends on where you happen to be," Dr. Ed Kearns says.

Kearns runs floodfactor.com which allows anyone to type in their address and see their own flood risk.

He says while FEMA's willingness to change is important, more climate change risks should be factored in.

“I'd really like to see how climate change is impacting those heavy rainfall events," Kearns said.

The reality, he says, is that some areas will be hit harder than others with floods in the coming years and Americans need to be insured and prepared to pay more.

"If you are living in a home that is on a grade slab and next to the ocean, or a low-lying area you should expect to pay your fair share.”

New policies will see rates change next month, current policyholders will see those changes next April.

If you're someone who wants flood insurance but can't afford it, keep an eye on Congress. A proposal to create new subsidies is currently included in the proposed multi-trillion-dollar spending bill.