South Georgia homes to have big flood insurance increases - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia homes to have big flood insurance increases

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Paul Forgey, Dir. of Planning * Development for Albany-Dougherty County Paul Forgey, Dir. of Planning * Development for Albany-Dougherty County
The Flint River flood disaster of 1994 The Flint River flood disaster of 1994
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

If you have flood insurance, you may have noticed an increase in your premiums recently.

Monday, Dougherty County leaders were briefed on a new federal law to reassess properties in flood zones and help close a $25 Billion deficit in the Flood Insurance Program. 

Nearly 30% of the county's properties and 19% of the city's properties are located in flood zones. And that could mean big premium increases for a lot of the residents.

The homes near Ragsdale Park are just a few South Georgia properties that could see a big jump in their flood insurance rates this year.

"A lot of older flood insurance policies are subsidized," said Paul Forgey, Dir. of Planning * Development for Albany-Dougherty County.  "And although owners don't realize it, they've been paying lower rates for a long time.  And because of a lot of recent disasters, the Flood Insurance Program, nationally, is in a huge debt." 

Forgey said floods are among the most expensive natural disasters, costing an average of $30,000 per claim.

"It has to be paid somewhere, and I think everyone agrees that people paying for it that aren't impacted by flooding is not really the best way to do it.  So congress has decided that the people who are effected by floods and have property in the flood areas are the ones that should pay for that risk," he said.

He said everyone will see a 5% increase which will replenish reserve funds for future disasters.  But owners of secondary properties will see their rates go up substantially more.

"People who are not...it's not their primary home, it's a business or it's a rental property, some other kind of commercial property.  Their rates will go up about 25% a year until they achieve the full rate, which could be 4 or 5 years of going up 25% each year," said Forgey. 

And renters could feel the same pain as homeowners. 

"Unfortunately, that seems to be the logical conclusion that when property owners have to pay 10 times as much on their flood insurance, they're going to pass it on to occupants," said Forgey. 

Buyers searching for their new homes will also have to factor in higher flood insurance rates before they purchase a new property, which Forgey said may harm home sales.

Buildings built before 1978 in the county or before 1977 in the city which are located in flood zones face the biggest increases.  Forgey said elevation certificates, raising deductibles or elevating structures could help lower premiums. 

Some of the increases went into effect on January first, and others began on October first.

 

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