Flood insurance hikes could prove costly for waterfront property owners

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NEW BERN, NC (WITN) – A FEMA report estimates that one million fewer Americans will purchase flood insurance by the end of the decade, exposing more people in coastal communities at risk of financial loss.

Some owners here say the claims process was a difficult maze to navigate during Hurricane Florence.

“Well, it wasn’t good. We had the highest water level we’ve ever had. Nelson McDaniel says he initially only got a third of what he had in damages during Florence and that he had to sue for the full amount.

“The mistake people make is that they think flood insurance is flood insurance. No, it’s a government program to help people, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the experience you would have with home insurance,” he continued.

The federal flood insurance program was launched when many private insurers stopped offering policies in high-risk areas. And flood research and environmental experts say high-risk areas have started to increase.

“And he’s had problems because there are properties that have repeated flooding and those are very expensive for the program and there are also places that are flooded now that haven’t been flooded before.” said Dr. Antonia Sebastian, a professor at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences. .

Release of FEMA report shows more areas at higher risk of flooding in coastal communities across the country, which Sebastian says is a result of climate change and continued construction along coastlines .

“We are building more and more valuable infrastructure at risk. And we are also seeing an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms,” she continued.

“Nobody wants to pay higher premiums. For me personally, my biggest concern is what you get for the premium. I’m willing to pay for something if I get something back,” McDaniel said.

Ultimately, he says he understands the reasons for the increase, but also hopes the increases will be clearer.

The federal flood insurance program operates on what it calls the “Risk Rating 2.0” system, which it says operates “in the red, paying more in claims than it collects in premiums.”

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