Delawarens will benefit from a new risk rating

Based on the new rules released for the National Flood Insurance Program, Delawaren will see a change in the cost of protecting their homes from flood damage.

The first phase of the program’s new risk assessment methodology, managed and updated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, started on Friday. The 2.0 risk rating incorporates more flood risk variables, including frequency and type of flooding, such as river overflow and heavy rainfall, as well as distance to a water source and characteristics of the flood. property such as elevation and cost of reconstruction.

“The new NFIP scoring methodology is long overdue as it has not been updated for over 40 years,” said David Maurstad, senior executive of the National Flood Insurance Program. “Now is the time to modernize the way risks are identified, assessed and communicated. In doing so, we enable policyholders to make informed decisions to protect their homes and businesses from the life-changing floods that will occur in the months and years to come due to climate change. “

Most Delawaren will benefit from the new policy. FEMA reports that 98 percent of the premiums of current policyholders will decrease or increase by $ 20 or less per month under the 2.0 risk rating.

FEMA is limited to increasing flood insurance rates for primary residences by no more than 18 percent per year. There are currently 26,100 NFIP policies in effect in Delaware and 363,000 properties not covered by the NFIP policy.

Danielle Sparrow, Coastal Risk Specialist for the Delaware Sea Grant, does outreach work with communities to help them understand how weather and climate change will impact their communities and how to adapt.

“The danger itself is increasing because of climate change,” she said. “You have a water table that is rising due to rising sea levels and that has many implications for flooding, and can make flooding worse. We have seen that storms intensify and bring more rain in less time. “

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the most recent report on high tide flooding indicates that coastal communities across the we continued to experience record high tide flooding in 2020. The report shows that between May 2020 and April 2021, coastal communities have experienced twice as many flooding days at high tide than 20 years ago. The trend of near record high tides is expected to continue until spring 2022.

According to First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group working to define America’s growing flood dangers, over 15.8 percent of individual properties and properties in Delaware are at risk of flooding over the next 30 years. Of those at risk, 67 percent are at major to extreme risk.

A total of 39,700 Delaware properties are currently at substantial risk of flooding, but over the next 30 years the number of at-risk properties will increase another 21%, bringing the total number of properties at substantial risk to 48,000. .

A 2021 FSF report examining the risk of economic losses from flooding in United States, Delaware had the highest value at $ 21,361 by property. The second highest was Caroline from the south To $ 11,634.

“At the state level, Delaware has the largest [Average Annual Loss to National Flood Insurance Program] premium disparity with 11.4 times more annualized economic risk in the state than the current NFIP rate structure is designed to provide, ”the report says.

Twelve percent of properties in Sussex and 1 percent in Kent and New castle are currently threatened by flooding. By 2050, the cost of flood damage is expected to increase by 50.9% in Sussex, 119.7 percent in Kent and 49.6 percent in New Castle County. On average, the annual cost to homeowners of flood-prone homes will increase by $ 12,825 in Sussex, $ 2,869 in Kent, and $ 1,815 in New castle.

Delaware beaches are the most prone to flood damage, which is reflected in from Sussex County significantly higher risk of flooding, but the risk of flood damage to existing properties New Castle County also increase. Risk in New castle and Pike stream is expected to jump 13% and 18% in Wilmington by 2050.

Trinity Navarro, Delaware’s insurance commissioner, said he remembers the storms that ravaged New Castle County in 2003 and 2004. Tropical storm Henri in September 2003 wiped out the community of Glenville, causing the largest home purchase by state and county governments in Delaware history due to storm damage. A total of 171 homes were purchased just eight months after the storm.

The first tornado New Castle County had seen trees torn from the ground in 15 years and severely damaged residential and commercial structures during the Jeanne Tropical Depression in 2004. This sparked another major home purchase: a buyout of the Newkirk domains and Glendale communities. In total, $ 34 million was spent over two years to repair storm damage.

“These 100 and 500 year storms now occur every two years and for people who live in flood prone areas they will see premiums increase,” Mr. Navarro noted.

The insurance department does not manage the NFIP, but regulates the private policies offered by insurers. Mr. Navarro noted, however, that the Insurance Department is a resource for consumers for all lines of insurance, private or federal. The ministry is working to expand the availability of private options.

Either way, however, he said people will pay more when the likelihood of another flood is high.

“Everyone loves this beautiful view of a body of water, but I think people should think twice before buying properties because we know, history tells us… the climate is changing,” Mr. Navarro noted.

He added that many people assume their home insurance will cover flood, sewage back-up or rain damage, but in most policies that is excluded.

Dr. Gina Tonn, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control The floodplains program director and engineer, said she sees an increased risk of flooding and it is likely that more areas will be reconfigured as high-risk flood zones.

“There isn’t a big change going on with Risk Rating 2.0 where suddenly all the maps are updated”, Dr Tonn noted. “The maps are really meant to show current conditions and what’s in the 1% risk zone. That’s what makes sense from an insurance standpoint, you pay for insurance for that. year, not for anything in the future. So in general the maps will potentially change to show more area in the floodplain over time. “

DNREC re-evaluates flood maps as needed in areas where problems start to become more frequent or in areas that are simply out of date. The latest county-wide reassessments were carried out in Kent and Sussex in 2018 and in New Castle County in 2020.

“Our communities and counties in Delaware are still using (flood maps) to regulate development in the floodplain,” Dr Tonn noted. “They are required to do this as part of their participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, and it will continue under risk rating 2.0.”

Some regions of Wilmington that were flooded during Hurricane Ida in early September are AE flood zones, meaning they have a 1% annual flood risk and a 26% chance over the life of a 30-year mortgage , according to FEMA. Owners of AE flood zones with mortgages from federally regulated lenders are required to purchase flood insurance through the NFIP.

Areas outside the mapped flood zones are also still at risk. Sea Grant Delaware says more than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from people outside of mapped high-risk areas.

Mrs. sparrow said that while there is no control over when flooding occurs, exposure to flooding is manageable. “We have to design for future conditions and not just what we see on the ground or historical conditions,” she said. “Think about what’s allowed to be built in a floodplain, and is it designed with high standards in mind so that it can adapt to certain flooding and rebound? “

Start of new policies October 1st will be subject to the new ratings. Also starts October 1st, existing policyholders eligible for renewal will be able to benefit from immediate reductions in their premiums.

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