Some in SWLA see flood insurance hike under program - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Some in SWLA see flood insurance hike under program

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(Source: KXLN 45 Univision/MGN Online) (Source: KXLN 45 Univision/MGN Online)
CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

In an area prone to hurricanes, flood insurance is important for Louisiana residents.

Calcasieu Parish became a part of the National Flood Insurance program in 1978.

By participating in the program, flood maps were created which allowed homeowners the option to purchase flood insurance.

As a way to continue offering flood insurance, Congress passed the Biggert Waters Act in 2012.

"Last summer, the Congress passed the Biggert Waters Act which basically reauthorized people to have the ability to get flood insurance for the next five years," said Pam Mattingly, Assistant Director of Planning at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. "The act has several components and one of the big ones was an increase in flood insurance premiums."

Mattingly said FEMA is working to make the program more financially sound. As a way to do this, they have to bring policy rates to the actuarial rates instead of previously given discounted rates.

So now, homeowners will pay according to the risk rate of their home.

"Regardless if you have made a claim on your insurance or not, this is an across-the-board increase," Mattingly said. "They are removing the subsidy from the program."

Flood maps in Calcasieu Parish were updated in 2011 and areas that previously were not in a high risk for flood area may now be.

The increase is said to be implemented over a five-year period with a 20-to-25 percent increase each year.

While some homeowners fear they will have to move because they can no longer afford mandatory flood insurance, Louisiana officials are working to strike a deal that would prevent that.

Members of Louisiana's Republican and Democratic leaders are working together to form a caucus to prevent the rates from skyrocketing.

U.S. Senator David Vitter, along with Congressman Bill Cassidy and Congressman Cedric Richmond, formed the bi-partisan Congressional Home Protection Caucus.

"Flood insurance is critical not only to South Louisiana but to coastal communities across the country, unfortunately, it has been implemented in a way by FEMA to make the insurance unaffordable," Cassidy said.

Mattingly said the parish has looked for ways to try and help people reduce their flood insurance.

"The parish participates in the community rating system; it goes above and beyond what FEMA asks of us, and as a result we can give a discount on flood insurance premiums," Mattingly said. "If you are inside the City of Lake Charles, you get a 5 percent discount and if you are outside of the city limits you receive 10 percent off."

Mattingly said the money saves citizens around $300,000.

"That is money that goes directly into their pockets, we don't keep it," she said.

Mattingly suggests homeowners call their insurance if they are concerned about their premium. To view a flood zone map, click HERE.

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