Thousands of home and business owners in high-risk flood areas could qualify for lower flood insurance rates, thanks to a new insurance rating option offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program.
Starting Jan. 1, Preferred Risk Policies, normally available only in moderate- to low-risk areas, will be available to properties that have been newly mapped into high-risk areas on or after Oct. 1, 2008. The policies start at $129 a year. Qualified property owners can get the lower rates for two years before having to pay standard flood insurance rates.
Flood risks change due to a variety of factors, including alterations in the landscape, impacts of land use and the development and condition of levees. Federal officials have been updating the nation's flood maps since 2003 to reflect changes and to use state-of-the-art technology and modeling techniques to provide more detailed and accurate information about where flooding is most likely to occur.
As a result, many property owners are finding their risk has changed and may have to purchase flood insurance. Standard home insurance does not cover damage from flooding.