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FEMA flood insurance premiums on the rise in the Coastal Bend

The cost increases are hitting flood-prone Texas and Florida at a time when both states are seeing their populations swell due to pandemic-driven migration.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There's expected to be an increase in FEMA flood insurance rates for more people this year. 

The reason that Texas and Florida in particular will see the highest increases in FEMA flood insurance premiums is because the two states have had the most people move into them over the past few years.

According to Elke Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, there are other reasons why these costs are going up.

"The prices that we're seeing in premiums are related to the cost of materials," Gonzalez said. "So, if a home needs to be replaced or needs to be rebuilt, they're factoring in those costs."

However, material costs aren't the only reason.

Until now, flood risk was based on a property's elevation and whether or not it was located in the 100-year floodplain.

FEMA's new methodology, will consider other factors like flood frequency, your distance from a water source and the cost of rebuilding, as well as different types of flooding like a storm surge, river overflow and heavy rainfall.

Stephanie Waterman, a local insurance agent, described the FEMA changes as shocking.  

"The rates really went up," Waterman said. "We've lost our local community ratings. So everyone is being manually rated which is causing the rates to go up substantially in this area."

There are more than 760,000 FEMA policies in Texas.

The cost increases are hitting flood-prone Texas and Florida at a time when both states are seeing their populations swell due to pandemic-driven migration.

Texas and Florida, the two most populous states behind California, have soared in popularity as remote work and surging home prices have prompted Americans to seek out more affordable places to live.

But Waterman said there are some things residents can do to mitigate the costs. 

"To get a flood elevation certificate. I've seen it where my federal flood rates for someone is 1,200 dollars a year and after someone gets that engineer to do a flood elevation certificate, it can go down to 600 dollars," Waterman said.

Over the long term, the cost increases could spell disaster for low-income homeowners who can't afford pricier insurance and for future growth in the riskiest housing markets.

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