City hopes to reduce flood insurance premiums

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, July 28, 2016

If federal officials reduce Washington’s flood-insurance rating from 7 to 6 this fall, flood-insurance policyholders in the city would receive a 20-percent discount on their premiums.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council was informed that the city, which participates in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System, will have its next evaluation Oct. 11. CRS is a voluntary program that recognizes communities for implementing floodplain management practices that exceed minimum NFIP requirements related to providing protection from flooding. NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Currently, flood-insurance policyholders in the city receive a 15-percent discount on their premiums. In 2015, the average savings for the 1,291 policyholders in the city was $119. Obtaining the 6 rating would result in an average savings of $151, or a savings of $178,330 communitywide, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources.

“The CRS program requires the city be visiting every five years to insure that we are meeting the guidelines set forth in the program. We were lasted visited in 2011,” according to Rodman.

The federal government is redrawing floodplain maps across the nation, Rodman told the council. “This is going to be quite a change for the city,” he said.

Currently, new houses built in the 100-year floodplain are required to have their first floor (habitable) at the base flood elevation (either nine or 10 feet in Washington), according to Allen Pittman, the city’s senior building code official. If that required elevation is less after the new flood maps are approved, that likely would lower costs of building houses in the 100-year floodplain, Rodman said.

In 2012, Washington was recognized for operating a top-notch floodplain-management program. Washington residents have some of the lowest flood-insurance premiums in North Carolina. Washington is one of 15 communities in North Carolina with a seven rating.

Beaufort County does not participate in the NFIP’s Community Rating System. Belhaven’s CRS score is 7, meaning its property owners with flood insurance receive a 15-percent discount on their premiums. Washington Park has an 8 rating. That town’s property owners with flood insurance receive a 10-percent break on their premiums. No other municipality in the county participates in the CRS program, meaning property owners in those towns who buy flood insurance do not receive discounts on their premiums, which vary based on several factors, including coverage amounts.

The maximum discount under the CRS program is 45 percent.

By exceeding the minimum requirements, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS, according to FEMA. Those goals are to reduce flood damage to insurable property, strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP and encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

In North Carolina during 2014, the average flood-insurance claim was $21,502, according to NFIP data. Data for 2015 has not yet been posted on the NFIP website.

Usually, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase for flood insurance to take effect.

Houses and buildings in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1-in-4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage, according to the NFIP website.

For additional information about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit or call 1-888-379-9531.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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