In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This requires a number of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These law changes are mainly the result of rising costs and consequences of flooding over the past few years.
Some of these changes have already been put in place and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for policyholders over time and they must be adhered to by all insurance companies who write flood insurance.
Effective October 1, 2013, the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) will no longer allow renewals for Pre-FIRM (built prior to 1975) business property in a Special Flood Hazard Area (this includes all A & V Zone properties) to continue receiving subsidized premium rates. Business property flood renewals will experience a premium rate increase of 25% annually until their premium reflects true risk or until the owners submit a new elevation certificate.
New Business Property purchases that are Pre-FIRM and in Special Flood Hazard Areas will no longer be able to assume the seller’s flood policy and will be required to obtain an elevation certificate and pay the full actuarial rates. Please note: allowing a flood policy to lapse, even if it’s the fault of your Mortgagee, can trigger rate changes and require you to obtain an Elevation Certificate to secure flood coverage.
Business Property is defined as any non-residential building that produces income, or a building designed for use as office or retail space, or for wholesale, hospitality, or similar uses.
General rate increases for all flood policy holders prior to the Biggert – Waters Act was a maximum of 10% per year. With the passage of this Act, the maximum annual increase will be 20%. Additionally, Federal Rate Fee is increasing from $40 to $44.
If you don’t have an elevation certificate for your building, you will need to hire a surveyor to come to your property to complete the certificate. Also, effective October 1, 2013, a 5% Reserve Fund will be added to all flood policies except Preferred Risk Policies. Contact your WWW representative for a lists of surveyors in the area.
Sometime in 2014
This section of the bill requires an adjustment to the rating for all policies when their community adopts a new Flood Insurance Rate Map. This will be phased in over the five years following the effective date of the map change or revision.
It is important to note that actions such as buying a property, allowing a policy to lapse (even if it’s the fault of your Mortgagee), or purchasing a new policy can trigger rate changes and will require you to obtain an Elevation Certificate to secure flood coverage. We can advise how these changes might affect your flood coverage and what options you might have to lower your premium.