Md. Residents Facing Higher Flood Insurance Rates - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md., Del. Residents Facing Higher Flood Insurance Rates

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FEDERALSBURG, Md. (AP/WBOC)- Changes in the federal flood insurance program are likely to mean higher premiums for thousands of Maryland residents, and not just those living in Ocean City or along the Chesapeake Bay. Likewise, premiums for thousands of Delaware property owners may also increase significantly, but it seems many residents may not know about impending rate hikes of up to 25 percent.

For years, the federal government offered subsidized flood insurance on homes and businesses. But discounted premiums and catastrophic storms in recent years have left the National Flood Insurance Program deeply in debt, prompting Congress to pass a law two years ago requiring policyholders to start paying rates based on their true risk of flooding.

Records obtained by The Associated Press from the Federal Emergency Management Agency show that of the more than 73,000 flood insurance policies in effect in Maryland as of December 2012, some 12,000, or 17 percent, have been subsidized in the past and are facing rate increases.

And of the roughly 25,900 flood insurance policies in effect in Delaware as of December 2012, more than 3,600, or 14 percent, have been subsidized in the past and are facing rate increases. Those increases can range up to 18 percent a year for primary residences and apartment buildings, while premiums for vacation homes and businesses will increase 25 percent annually.
 
But it appears that many policyholders in Delaware may not be aware of the impending rate increases.
 
Elsmere town manager John Giles Jr. said he has not heard from any residents of the northern Delaware community about the rate increases. According to federal officials, more than 70 percent of policies in Elsmere will be affected, which is the highest rate in the state along with the small Kent County community of Leipsic, which has far fewer policyholders.
 
Statewide, there was roughly $18.6 million of premiums in force at the end of 2012, amounting to about 24 percent of the $77 million in claims paid in Delaware under the flood insurance program.
 
Powell, DNREC's flood mitigation program expert, said all classes of insurance policies have been going up, and that the pending increases for some policyholders under the recent legislation are not that much different from what they have seen in the past.

Mike Powell, a program manager for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said most of the questions he's received are from property owners who want to know how the current updating of flood plain maps is going to affect them. Compared with the rate increases, the new flood plain maps that are going to be phased in are not going to be as significant, he said.
 
"A lot of people that I spoke to were getting good news, that the flood plains either were not changing for their properties or their house was coming out of the flood plain," Powell noted.

For more information on flood insurance rates go to http://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance-reform

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