Huge increases in flood insurance premiums could cost Sutter County property owners hundreds of thousands of dollars if U.S. lawmakers fail to intervene, county officials said Tuesday. Starting Oct. 1, subsidized flood insurance costs for certain classes of property will be phased out, and rates will increase by 25 percent annually for business and agricultural properties. Similar increases have already hit nonprimary residential structures as of Jan. 1.
“Even the primary residential structures are not going to be receiving subsidized rates forever,” said Dan Peterson, water resources chief for Sutter County. “There are a number of triggers that would cause a primary residential structure to move to full actuarial (high-risk) rates.”
The changes are being implemented through the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which is anticipated to increase net income to the National Flood Insurance Program by $4.2 billion over 10 years. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, changes will more accurately reflect flood risk for most properties. As it stands today, the legislation will cost Sutter County property owners more than $2.6 million annually in higher flood insurance premiums, Peterson said. Sutter County supervisors on Tuesday discussed the potential impacts of the changes, and Peterson introduced several recommendations to the board.
“I think it would be a very good idea for elected officials and members of the community to contact their congressional representatives to let them know this one-size-fits-all approach toward flood insurance and the elimination of subsidized flood insurance policies for pre-existing structures is not only unfair,” Peterson said, “but it’s also really going to have a detrimental impact on our economy.”
Supervisor James Gallagher said some congressmen — such as John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa — see the issue of increasing flood insurance premiums as a problem. Others, however, acknowledge a number of issues facing the National Flood Insurance Program, which Gallagher said is suffering significant financial losses.
“You’re always having to fight against congressional representatives who don’t live in the flood plain, saying you’re subsidizing, even though some of these things are very reasonable and we need to make those changes,” he said. “That’s what we’re up against.”