Homeowners find ways to cut costs on flood insurance

Brown County flooding (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Water doesn’t have to flood homes in order for homeowners to pay up. People who live in the flood zone between the canal and the White River north of the Butler Campus are required to get flood insurance.

Their rates are likely to go up, but things could have been worse.

Streets that look more like streams, pools forming in yards, are the norm this season in flood zones – but not always William Fritz’ neighborhood.

“It’s never been anywhere near close to that,” he said.

He lives in Rocky Ripple where one of his neighbors is the canal and not too far away is the White River.

That puts him square in a flood zone and requires flood insurance.

Yearly he pays, “$1,200 to $1,300. Some of the other people in the neighborhood have premiums upward of at $4,000.”

State Farm Insurance Agent Elizabeth Marshall understands Fritz’s concern. But a law signed by President Obama last month should put him at ease. It called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. It repeals and modifies portions of the Bigger-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act that was enacted in 2012.

“With all of the changes in the flood insurance world, although there have been a lot of positive changes with the new affordability act, they haven’t quite trickled down for implementation yet ,” said Marshall.

The law would makes it so Fritz’s yearly premium can only increase by up to 18 percent. A new homeowner can also assume the prior owner’s flood insurance policy and retain the same rates. It’s some positive news Marshall feels the housing market really needs.

“It’s a huge relief for people who are trying to buy and sell their homes,” she said.

Fritz says without the new law, it’s possible buyers would have avoided his neighborhood just because of the insurance costs.

Knowing it was recently signed gave him some relief in more ways than one.

“I’m a licensed real estate appraiser for the state of Indiana,” he said.

Fritz hopes to complete an “elevation certificate.”

The certificate could prove that his home is at a high enough elevation to not require insurance.

“What we’re finding is if they’re four feet below base flood elevation or higher than that elevation certificate actually gives them a lower premium, even in the subsidized rate,” said Marshall.

Marshall said people who live near flood zones should also get an elevation certificate. That way if the flood zone expands putting the homeowners’ property inside of it, they can have their certificate ready. Marshall said new maps showing the new flood zones should be released sometime this summer.

She suggested that anyone who lives near a flood zone to check them maps, especially since she said public meetings will be held to educate people in those areas.

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