Flood plain insurance to skyrocket

Jason Angus Reporter

February 5, 2014

Jackson County residents who fall under the FEMA flood plains map could soon be required to pay an enormous increase in their Federal Flood Insurance premiums with the implementation of BW-12. Jackson County Flood Plain Manager, and Jackson County Commissioners, are fighting to protect residents from the increase, and are urging residents to contact their legislators.

Premiums are expected to rise with the implementation of BW-12, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, to make FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program more financially stable.

The Senate recently passed a resolution of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S. 1926), to be voted on by the House of Representatives (H.B. 3370), to delay increasing premiums that would affect many Jackson County residents and Oklahoma.

“If left unchecked, a flood insurance premium could rise from a cost of $632 per year to around $17,723 per year,” Flood Plains Manager Wayne Cain said. Current premiums fall under a grandfathered clause set to be phased out beginning 2014 or later.

Residents who want to be removed from FEMA’s map require a flood plain survey of their property costing as much as $2,000 or more, and are still subjected to purchase flood insurance while the survey is underway. Once removed from the map, they will be reimbursed the amount paid toward the premium.

“The other option is to cancel their loans and have to walk away from their house,” Cain said.

H.B. 3370 includes an amendment to reimburse anyone paying out-of-pocket for flood plain justification of approximately $1,500 per dwelling site.

Commissioner Cary Carrell explained that people who are trying to refinance their property, sell their home, or buy a home, are shocked when the bank requires flood plain insurance and a flood plain survey of the property.

“A lot of people don’t know if they are in it, and may don’t know until they go to refinance their home, sell their home, or buy a home,” Carrell said. “That’s how most people have found out because we have had to inform patrons that a flood plain study must be performed.”

“It places the burden on our patrons, especially those on fixed incomes,” Cain said. “You have to have this study done, you have to by the insurance. Once the grandfather clause runs out, people are going to be extremely shocked at what it’s going to cost for that insurance premium. I encourage our citizens to contact our House of Representatives and have them vote in favor of H.R. 3370.”

Commissioner Marty Clinton said that it’s time for the public to get involved. “We met with the Attorney General last year and were trying to get some support from him on the State level to take it to the Federal level,” Clinton said. “Call, email, or write… Residents need to tell their federal legislators how they feel, because we have, and we need their help.”