Flood insurance premiums to rise in Harris County, according to FEMA

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- If you think your flood insurance bill is already too high, upcoming changes will make it even pricier.

Starting Friday, most of us will be paying even more because the Federal Emergency Management Agency is changing the way it calculates rates.

"Flood insurance rates wouldn't be rising if the flooding wasn't a direct threat to our area," explained Andrea Kawaja with Afloat Insurance Agency.

For decades, FEMA calculated insurance rates by looking at flood zones. Rates were the same whether your home was worth $1 million or $50,000.

But starting April 2022, each property will be calculated individually.

"Since low-risk zones were flooding, too, that's not what they're counting now," Kawaja explained. "They're counting new things such as geographic data and your address. Your distance to a water source. The topography. They're looking at weather data and historical data. They're also looking at home features."

Rates will go down for some in the country, but in Harris County, the new calculations reflect our flooding problem.

The increases will be gradual and capped at 18% a year.

"I have seen rate changes from $650 up to $3500. That is the range," Kawaja said. "If you are in a zone that is not a flood zone, which is a misnomer, everyone in Houston is in a flood zone, then your rate could be relatively the same and max out at 650, or it could go up and max out at 3500."

At the same time, Harris County is working on updating its flood maps. So, you could see changes to your premiums again in the next few years.

"What you'll see going forward is that it may rain a lot, and whereas five years ago, we would have called it a 100-year rainfall, we'll go, 'Really? That was more like a 50-year rainfall.' Mainly because we have adopted and are using the new statistical data," explained Alan Black, deputy director of Harris County Flood Control District Engineering and Construction.

Depending on when you purchased your home, you may already be paying increased premiums.

If you'd like to check if you are in a flood zone, visit FEMA's website. Also, make sure to contact your insurance agency for your new premiums.

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