Insurance costs rattle homeowners

Published 10:38 pm Thursday, December 19, 2013

By Jodi Marze

Picayune Item

Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero recently returned from a trip to the nation’s capitol to meet with in Mississippi’ Congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep Steven Palazzo, over county concerns. Biggert Waters flood insurance legislation, which is currently on its way to becoming law, was one of the topics they met about.

The law is a cause for concern for many due to the unknown factors, which have yet to be made clear.

“The legislation, that everyone is fearful of, is Section 205, which pertains to policy subsidies of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” Pinero said. “Under section 205, 81 percent of policy-holders are not affected but may see routine increases.”

“For instance, you have your pre-firm non-primary residents which are people with second homes that make up five percent of the NFIP program. These will see an estimated 25 percent increase annually, until the true risk premium is reached.

“10 percent of pre-firm primary residences are in flood zones that will remain at current, subsidized rates. These will remain in effect until properties are either sold or policies lapse. This means they are in a higher flood zone but are grandfathered in until the change of ownership or policy occurs.

“There is a fear that if the legislators remove the grandfather clause, it will become impossible for the average person to afford policies.

“The biggest problem in Pearl River County is the repetitive flood loss properties. We will not see the increases that the southern parishes and coast will see, because we do not have V (velocity) zones in the county.

“This is far reaching— it is not just a coastal problem — it will affect the whole inland United States as well, because it also pertains to rivers and streams. This is something that is being lost in this current debate. People are thinking it doesn’t matter to them, but it will.

Palazzo weighed in on the legislation and reiterated Pinero’s assessment.

“Over the past year, I’ve watched this movement grow from a few coastal legislators to a broad bipartisan, bicameral coalition working to address flood insurance reform,” Palazzo said. “My main goal is to see more compassionate reforms implemented so that flood insurance remains available and affordable for those who need it most.

“This isn’t just a Mississippi problem or a Gulf Coast problem. More and more communities across the country are waking up to the reality that these changes are going to affect them.

“I appreciate the support of local leadership who have partnered with us to address these issues and ensure the interests of Pearl River County residents are well-represented.”

Congressman Palazzo can be contacted at: http://palazzo.house.gov/contact/.