May 6, 2013 6:15 PM by Chris Welty
Hundreds of residents may see their flood insurance policies increase by thousands of dollars.
The National Flood Insurance Program is looking to fill budget shortfalls by increasing insurance premiums.
In 2012, Congress approved the Biggert Waters Flood Reform Act. Any homeowner who has experienced severe or repeated flooding will see a 25% annual rate increase starting October first until flood insurance rates reflect updated flood risk.
Business owners in severe flood zones will also see a 25% rate increase annually beginning October first.
Erath Alderman John Leblanc is fighting to reverse national legislation and keep flood insurance affordable.
He says people in towns like Erath, still recovering from Hurricanes Rita and Ike, will have to make tough decisions.
"These people cannot afford to pay the rates they are talking about," said Leblanc.
After the storms many families elevated their homes. Leblanc raised his house four and a half feet, to 12 feet above flood level.
"For every six inches that you go up, your flood insurance drops."
Not everyone can afford to raise their homes. If you're paying a mortgage, flood insurance is a requirement, and dropping your flood insurance could mean eviction.
"Banks foreclose on properties, it's a domino affect," said Leblanc.
"You can't go shop around for different prices on flood insurance. Whatever FEMA says your rates are going to be will be your rate," said Bank of Erath Vice President Beth Melebeck.
She says it's important for people to contact their insurance agents and be well educated on the rate increases.
"If you have a home, you're going to want to have it insured. people were drastically affected by hurricanes rita and ike. now, they will be faced with huge burdens on flood insurance."
According to FEMA's website, home and business owners can potentially lower the cost of their flood insurance.
If you pay a higher deductible, your premium may lower. Also, consider building or rebuilding higher to lower your flood risk and possibly reduce your premium.