Talk in Wareham focused on lowering rising flood insurance rates
Flood insurance rates are rising due to major changes made by Congress. On Monday, nearly 70 people packed Town Hall auditorium for tips on bringing those costs down.
“A foot and a half of water can crush a foundation,” said Peter Allen of Smart Vent Products/Flood Risk Evaluators. “It really doesn’t take much.”
Organized by Director of Inspectional Services David Riquinha, the event educated Wareham residents, who live in the floodplain, how to reduce insurance premiums.
Allen explained that major changes to the National Flood Insurance Program were made in 2012 via the Biggert-Waters Act Flood Insurance Reform Act. To rein in the taxpayer cost of the National Flood Insurance Program, Biggert-Waters dropped two key provisions that kept rates where they were. Flood insurance will no longer be subsidized by tax dollars for homes that pre-date the flood insurance program. And homes that met flood-zone requirements when they were built, but have since been placed in a higher risk flood zone, will no longer be “grandfathered” in to previous insurance rates.
Those changes are starting to kick in now, including premium hikes of between 18 to 25 percent annually until rates accurately reflect the risk of flooding.
With premiums rising, Allen discussed some steps residents could take to reduce their bills. He focused mostly on installing flood vents, which will lower the pressure on walls and foundations during a flood, reducing damage.
As an example, Allen said one homeowner his firm worked with paid a premium of $2,038 annually. After six flood vents were installed at a cost of $2,500, the premium dropped to $281. Some left unsatisfied with the presentation after learning only those without full basements could install vents for reduced premiums.
“It sounds like because we have a full basement we won’t be able to lower rates with the vents, and are wasting our time,” said one woman before leaving mid-presentation.
Allen also stressed the importance of getting an “elevation certificate.” That certificate determines how high flood waters could rise, which determines premium rates.
Afterwards, Allen met individually with attendees to answer additional questions. For more information on Allen’s company and possibly lowering premiums, visit https://smartvent.com.