Flood insurance could soon increase, KY emergency managers worried

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Flood insurance rates could soon go up.

FEMA is rolling out its ‘Risk Rating 2.0‘ policy, which it says sets rates that are fairer and ensures rate increases and decreases are equitable. However, some Kentucky emergency managers say it could pose a financial problem.

Bath County Floodplain Director Jason York is worried those without coverage definitely won’t buy-in if rates go up, and those who have it might shy away.

“Not a lot of people have flood insurance in Eastern Kentucky already,” York said. “They just can’t afford it. In Eastern Kentucky, in particular, that’s going to create a hardship. It’s hard enough to get people to actually go out and get flood insurance now.”

York said FEMA’s new flood insurance policy is based on more factors than before, including: ground elevation, proximity to flooding source, foundation type, number of people living in the home and more.

York said the factor he’s very concerned about is that FEMA will consider 20 years of flood history when someone purchases a home. This means every previous flood claim falls on a new owner.

“When you buy a car, it goes by your individual rate on your insurance, but now, you’re going to buy everyone’s whoever owned that car insurance rate,” York said.

In a statement, FEMA said: “NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) premiums are based on how prone the structure is to flooding and unless mitigation actions are taken to lessen the risk of flooding, the risk remains the same regardless of the owner of the structure which is why NFIP considers the flooding history of the structure.”

In Bath County, FEMA’s spreadsheet, which breaks the numbers down county-by-county, shows that of the 74 people insured in that county, 44 of them will pay more for their insurance.

Though most of those people will pay an additional 120-dollars per year, at more, which is the lower end of FEMA’s insurance rate spectrum, York said it can still be a financial burden.

Carlise was hit hard by flooding this summer. Emergency Management Director Calvin Denton said, like York, he understands the need for insurance, especially because FEMA denied his county’s request for emergency help, but he knows many people can’t afford it.

“It just put them in a situation – either you have it or you’re not going to have anything,” Denton said. “No win situation.”

York said he knows the main objective is to keep people safe, and help out in a time of need, but he said FEMA, like many federal agencies, is facing financial stress. So, York will continue helping people  protect themselves – physically and financially.

“Try to educate themselves on every single thing that they can do to get a discount and get that rate lowered,” York said.

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