What you need to know about FEMA’s new flood maps and your insurance coverage

The Investigators

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On the heels of severe weather awareness week and with hurricane season just around the corner, insurance agents say there is some welcome news for many when it comes to flood insurance.

Mike Hatfield moved his family to their home in Mount Pleasant several years ago. It’s near the marsh and that put him in a primary flood zone, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps.

That zone carried a hefty premium of more than $3,500 per year.

Despite the high-risk zone, Hatfield says the worst they ever experienced was some standing water in the back yard. Even during the historic flooding and tropical events.

“I kind of feel like I’ve thrown $10,000 to $15,000 into a bottomless pit,” said Hatfield.

The Hatfields, like thousands of others in the Lowcountry, are seeing a major benefit from the newly drawn FEMA flood maps that just went into effect at the end of January.

“It was killer,” said Hatfield. “That we’re going to go from $3,500 down to about $500 is absolutely incredible.”

Andrew Muller with Mappus Insurance Agency says savings from many will be in the thousands, just like Hatfield.

“I would say in general, 90% of the homes are seeing a positive impact from the new flood maps,” said Muller.

He says new technology, including digital mapping gives a more accurate assessment of the threat posed by flooding. Whether it’s a change to your flood zone or the base flood elevation, the savings could be significant.

Some homeowners are even getting letters that say their mortgage company no longer requires them to have flood insurance. However, Ray Farmer, Director of the State Department of Insurance says you shouldn’t take the bait.

“I would caution anyone if you get the letter that says you no longer are required to have flood coverage from their mortgage company, reconsider,” said Farmer. “Drawing the line, or redrawing the line is helpful, but sometimes the forces of nature don’t pay attention to those lines.”

If you already paid your premiums for the year with the FEMA flood program you should get a refund.

In some cases, Muller says you may need to provide an elevation certificate to get a better rate. If you don’t have one he says they run in the $400 range.

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