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Hazard Zones – Flood Maps


By: Kaspersen, Janice

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One consequence of FEMA’s new flood maps is that insurance rates for many mortgage holders have gone up. Those in newly designated high-hazard areas—which FEMA defines as having a 26% chance of flooding sometime during a 30-year mortgage period—are required by most lenders to purchase insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

As this article points out, homeowners with so-called jumbo mortgages—loans exceeding $417,000 or $625,500, depending on where the home is located—might need to purchase additional insurance as well, since NFIP offers a maximum coverage of only $250,000.

They can either buy an additional NFIP policy to cover the building’s contents, or buy insurance to cover damages above $250,000 from private insurers. One such private company says the number of people buying additional insurance has doubled in the last year.

Either way, it’s expensive: although annual NFIP premiums for all homes covered now average about $625 a year, for those in high-risk zones the cost can be as much as $3,000 a year, and up to $4,000 or more for additional private coverage. And these luxury homes are often located on some of the most flood-prone real estate—in many cases, along the coast, or around lakes and rivers, many more of which have recently been designated as high-hazard areas.

Several years ago, some homeowners disputed their new, riskier flood designations, even hiring surveyors to show that FEMA’s classifications were incorrect. Although the flood maps continue to be updated, and more areas are being designated as high risk, the process is slow and suffering from lack of funds to move more quickly.

 

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