Flood Insurance Rates Could Soon Rise

Flooding in Ionia from April 2013.
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One year after Super storm Sandy hit the east coast some big flood insurance increases could be on the horizon.

It's meant to offset the costs of massive storms but it's also going to affect homeowners in Mid-Michigan who will never see anything like Sandy.

It would also mean rate hikes for homeowners who, just a couple years ago, weren't required to get flood insurance until the flood plain lines were redrawn by FEMA.

Keith Haley can see the Battle Creek from his front door but said in the 50 years he's lived in his home in Bellevue it has never once flooded.

"It's a good 75 to 80 feet at least (away from my home) and they still think I'm in a flood zone," Haley said.

"When I first got my mortgage they said I wasn't in a flood zone and I didn't have to worry about needing to get flood insurance."

But that all changed after the lines were redrawn.

Haley said they were 'grandfathered' in and so they pay roughly $400 a year now for insurance, had they not been their payments would've been closer to $800 or $900 a year.

Under the new law proposed in Congress, Haley could lose those 'grandfathered' rates.

"I'm kind of afraid of what we're going to see this next coming year so I really don't know what's going to be coming to our pocketbook," he said.

It's not the only increase on the horizon either. Cuts from a loss of subsidies which kicked in Oct. 1 could raise rates as much as 20 percent for some homeowners. There's another cut coming Jan. 1 for people who own a second home in a flood plain zone.

But Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann said there are ways around being in a newly designated flood plain.

"If you were not in a flood plain before and you are now there's a good chance that you probably still don't have to pay," Lindemann said.

The newly drawn maps aren't exactly accurate and haven't been field-tested, according to Lindemann.

Homeowners can file a map amendment with the drain commissioner's office to determine if they can get their property out of the flood plain.

"If you are a citizen who has a piece of property that is in question and you don't do anything about it you're going to pay a lot of money over a long period of time and put your property at risk financially," he said.

Lindemann said in Ingham County alone, about 4 percent of homeowners were in a flood plain before the lines were redrawn. After the lines were redrawn that figure doubled to more than 10 percent.

A group of lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would delay any further flood insurance rate hikes for about four years. It's unclear whether the delay will succeed.

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