Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 28, 2014

Flood insurance rates spike

MT. VERNON — Catastrophic national events, along with the federal government’s inability to make the program financially stable, is likely to lead to higher rates for property owners enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program.

At least 1.1 million policyholders are likely to see insurance premiums rise substantially in the next few years as the government whittles down rate subsidies for people in the riskiest flood zones.

Lawmakers this month tweaked the troubled program for the second time in two years after acknowledging that a previous overhaul in 2012 had socked too many policyholders with rate hikes they couldn’t afford. The legislation, however, has only put off the day of reckoning.

“Look at all the major floods we’ve had in recent years. Not just looking at Katrina and Sandy, but you’ve had these others taking place at various locations. Throughout the nation, you’ve had rivers flood for various reasons, and even our own flood of 2011, a lot of damage took place and homes were destroyed,” said Steve Lueker, Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency coordinator. “I’m sure it’s due to national averages of increased costs.”

Information from the Associated Press is estimating 71 percent of current policies in Jefferson County will increase; and 61 percent in Mt. Vernon.

Jefferson County became involved in the National Flood Insurance program in October 2000, according to Lueker.

“Various municipalities have their own distinctive rights to belong or not belong,” he explained. “Ina has opted to belong to the program. The city of Mt. Vernon was an active member long before the county joined.”

Lueker said the county is a relatively new member of the program.

“We had a lot of construction that took place in the rural areas in flood plain areas prior to that date,” he said. “They therefore, have a lot more properties that are at-risk while the city of Mt. Vernon has controlled things a lot longer.”

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