Flood insurance rate hikes may hurt

OBSERVER Staff Report

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for a delay in flood insurance hikes that could sink property values for more than 20,000 homeowners.

The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act will protect up to 11,000 Upstate New York Homeowners. First, the Schumer Plan will aid thousands of Upstate homeowners who wish to sell their homes, but discover their property values are being destroyed. Second, the Plan will prevent homeowners from facing drastically higher premiums as counties get remapped by FEMA in the coming years.

In Western New York there are about 1,141 policies at risk of higher premiums and 2,988 policies at risk of point-of-sale. Among those listed are Cattaraugus and Chautauqua County. Since the counties run under the “grandfather” policies, which means that their homes were originally built to code and complied with existing flood maps, but are in a community that has since had their flood risks revised upwards; they will face phased-in higher premiums when their communities are remapped by FEMA.

These homeowners were previously able to keep their rates.

The “grandfathered” policies at risk due to remapping low and high estimates for Cattaraugus County are 102 and 266. The “grandfathered” policies at risk due to remapping low and high estimates for Chautauqua County are 74 and 255.

The subsidized polices at risk at point-of-sale for Cattaraugus County is 380. The subsidized polices at risk at point-of-sale for Chautauqua County is 309.

Existing homeowners under the “grandfather” policy will face up to a 20 percent increase per year if their community adapts a new flood map.

If FEMA considers them a full risk those rates can be as high as $10,000 or $20,000 per year. FEMA has estimated it will take up to two years before they will have a complete affordability study to hand to Congress.