In 2012, Realtors worked together to obtain a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. Afterwards, Realtors heard from clients about exorbitant rate hikes and wildly inaccurate rate quotes in the program. Realtors were first to report the problems and NAR worked with friends on Capitol Hill to promote legislation to delay rate hikes from being implemented and provide tools to address inaccurate premiums. The result of lobbying and advocacy for homeowners is that President Obama signed the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act” into law on March 21, 2014.
This law repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance.
The following is a collection of documents, links, videos and resources designed to help Oregon REALTORS® navigate the world of Flood Insurance.
FEMA FLOOD INSURANCE UPDATE
Effective May 1, 2014, all buyers of older properties (“pre-FIRM”) will see a premium rate reduction under the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.
Instead of jumping to “full cost” for flood insurance, buyers will assume the seller’s Oct-2013 rate for a pre-FIRM property.
NAR prevailed upon FEMA to implement this provision seven months early. FEMA also extended the rate relief so all pre-FIRM properties
(including the second homes and businesses) will begin paying Oct-2013 rates when they purchase or renew their flood insurance after May 1, including:
- ALL buyers of a pre-FIRM property, not just those whose seller has an existing policy;
- ALL recent owners who apply for a new flood insurance policy on a pre-FIRM property;
- ALL recent owners who reinstate an old pre-FIRM policy that previously lapsed for any reason;
- ALL recent owners who renew a policy on a pre-FIRM property bought or newly insured after the 2012 Biggert-Waters law.
While expediting the rate relief, FEMA must still issue refunds to all those who paid more than their Oct-2013 rate.
NAR will continue working with FEMA and Congress to quickly issue these refunds to anyone overcharged for flood insurance under Biggert-Waters.
On April 3, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a memo that outlined the steps it’s taking to implement the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. The seven-page memo issues instructions to private insurers who issue flood insurance policies on FEMA’s behalf. The overriding message: Be patient. Homeowners and buyers may not receive the lower rate under the new law immediately. Homeowners facing a high bill are advised to pay it and wait for a rebate rather than go without flood coverage. Click here to read the full FEMA memorandum.
Resources for Oregon REALTORS® and Consumers
- FEMA: Flood Insurance Policy and Claim Statistics
- Interactive Map for NFIP Subsidized Policies by State and County
- Determine Your Flood Zone: “V” (High Risk Coastal), “A” (High Risk River), “X” (Low Risk),
or “D” (Unmapped)
- FEMA: Homeowner’s Guide to Elevation Certificates
- FEMA: Flood Insurance Rate Maps
- NAR/FEMA Brochure: What To Ask Your Insurance Agent (PDF)
- NAR/FEMA Brochure: What to Know and Say About Flood Risk and Flood Insurance (PDF)
- HouseLogic: Disaster & Flood Insurance Information
- Water Damage Advisor
FEMA’S Rate Relief Program
In anticipation of increasing flood insurance rates, FEMA identifies several options that may directly or indirectly result in flood insurance discounts to policyholders.
NFIP Community Rating System
The NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) offers insurance premium discounts (up to 45 percent) for individuals in communities implementing floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements of the NFIP. By implementing CRS floodplain management best practices, flood losses are reduced, public safety is enhanced, and of the cost of flood insurance is decreased.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Program
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities, including elevating properties, that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages.
An Elevation Certificate is an important tool that documents your building’s elevation. This fact sheet provides valuable information for homeowners including guidance for obtaining an Elevation Certificate, which is necessary for determining full-risk rates in high-risk zones. It may also show that you may be paying too much for flood insurance.
FEMA Flood Map Appeal
If a person believes their property was incorrectly included in the NFIP-identifies Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), they may submit an application to FEMA for a formal determination of the property’s location and/or elevation relative to the SFHA.
Raise the Deductible
As with any other insurance policy, you can always raise the deductible.