By News 12 Staff
Homeowners across New Jersey who carry national flood insurance could see rates skyrocket as the Federal Emergency Management Agency revamps its risk assessment following a summer of devastating floods.
Sen. Bob Menendez wants a pause in this new risk rating program before it takes effect in April on existing policy holders.
A new flood risk rating rolled out by FEMA at the start of the month on new policies is set to impact existing National Flood Insurance Program holders next spring.
“What I say about FEMA 2.0 is that it’s one step forward, four steps back,” says Amanda Devecka-Rinear, executive director of New Jersey Organizing Project. “The one good thing about it is the more accurate flood mapping. But the real challenge is there aren’t affordable guarantees in this program.”
Devecka-Rinear runs the New Jersey Organizing Project made up of Superstorm Sandy survivors. They take on issues specific to the needs of people who lived through disasters in New Jersey. She supports Menendez and the bipartisan effort from other lawmakers in vulnerable states calling for a halt of the rollout.
“The only decent thing to do is to put a pause before that April 1st implementation to really have meetings,” says Devecka-Rinear. “How it will impact the community – explain what’s happening and also hear from policy holders to hear what changes they want to see.
“FEMA says the new risk system incorporates more flood risk variables such as frequency, flood types, storm surge and heavy rainfall.
“The idea of flood insurance only being storm surge, only coming from the ocean, bay, or river or whatever else it is, it’s a lot more about groundwater accumulation, rapid rain,” says Chris San Filippo, with Farmers Insurance.
FEMA says most policy holders will see a decrease in rates under the new system and some will see increases, but annual rates could increase by 18%.
The worry is the increases could price people out of their homes.
Menendez says 80% of New Jersey policy holders would see their premiums increase under the new risk rating and that hundreds would face annual rate hikes of more than $1,000.