Rising flood insurance rates have kick-started a series of local discussions about the topic in recent days. And there are more sessions on tap for this week.
All the chatter is in response to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. Some pieces of the law kicked in Oct. 1, including changes for owners of homes built before the first federal flood map. Those “pre-firm” structures no longer will qualify for subsidized rates if they are sold.
The law is being enacted to restructure the finances of the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program. It’s expected to trigger 10 percent increases on average when policies are renewed. It also will gradually remove subsidies, requiring homeowners to assume the full risk rate over five years.
That has homeowners, real estate agents and political leaders jawboning about the impact of the new rates and what can be done at this late hour.
The issue was the center of attention at a lunch meeting held last week at the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors headquarters.
Nearly every available seat was occupied by agents and other members, anxious to hear presentations by Ryan Castle, government affairs director for the association, and Andrew E. Muller, an insurance adviser at Mappus Insurance Agency Inc.
The two speakers encouraged Realtors to tell sellers to get an elevation certificate if they plan to sell their homes. The certificate will determine the base flood elevation of the property, identifying its true risk.
Muller also drew some looks of astonishment from the crowd when he said “pre-firm” homes sold between July 6, 2012, and last Tuesday would assume full risk rate when they go for renewal.
“You could have assumed that current policy with the current subsidized rate, but at the next renewal of the flood insurance, you will then be moved to the full risk rate for the property,” he said. “The only advantage was you could assume the subsidized rates for a little bit of time, depending when your renewal was.”
Flood insurance discussions continue Tuesday when members of the S.C. Association of Realtors make a presentation before the Charleston County Legislative Delegation’s Courts, Laws and Rules Committee.
The meeting is set for 2 p.m. in the North Charleston City Council Chambers. It’s open to the public.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.