Flood insurance news continues to induce stress

The news on flood insurance always seems to be stress inducing.

The latest reason to worry involves impending but unknown changes to the National Flood Insurance Program by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In a nutshell, the changes are meant to prompt homeowners with property in flood plains to take more responsibility for their actions, according to Fran McJunkin, deputy planner for the Lycoming County Planning Commission. In other words, when changes are made to a property or induced by flooding, don’t just put everything back the way it was.

FEMA can check on any municipality or homeowner at any time to make sure national flood insurance regulations are being complied with. Private insurance can be suspended if municipalities or homeowners are found to be in noncompliance.

The message to homeowners in flood-prone areas is multiple: Invest in flood proofing homes; lift homes, or at least utilities, where possible; get water-resistant flooring; and move outlets upward whenever possible.

For every foot above the base flood elevation a home is, insurance rates go down. If a home is elevated but the utilities are not, insurance policies will consider the entire home to be at ground-level.

While FEMA has not been specific about upcoming changes, the preceding is strongly suggested. Beyond, homeowners should use common sense and do everything they can to make their property less prone to flooding.

Even that may not stabilize the high cost of insurance in those areas.

Insurance costs, which average between $1,000 and $3,000 per year, could skyrocket to the $9,000 to $12,000 range for flood insurance when the agency switches from subsidized to actuarial rates in October 2020.

Like we said, it’s stress inducing.