NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Flood insurance premiums will rise again this year, according to federal officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said flood premiums will jump about 8 percent, the Asbury Park Press reported. The average flood policy will cost $935 annually, up from $866 last year. That does not include surcharges homeowners must pay that will raise the average policy to $1,062.
Some homeowners will see increases much larger than 8 percent — up to 25 percent for vacation homes, commercial properties and homes with repeated flood losses. FEMA reported 231,956 flood insurance policies in effect in New Jersey, with the average policyholder paying about $1,000 a year, a number that has been steadily increasing.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage for 5 million policyholders nationwide but must be reauthorized periodically. Now slated to expire at the end of July, the program is currently more than $25 billion in debt.
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A measure introduced last year by Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez would cap annual premium increases at 10 percent and increase oversight and restrictions on private insurance companies that write flood policies, but the measure has not had a hearing by the Senate Banking Committee.
The U.S. House last fall approved another measure that would provide up to $60,000 for mitigation projects and allow homeowners to apply for the money before flooding occurs. The bill would cap annual premium increases at 15 percent per year, down from the 18 percent allowed now, but would allow flood premiums of up to $10,000 on primary homes.
George Kasimos, a Toms River resident who founded the Superstorm Sandy advocacy group Stop FEMA Now, said almost every bill proposed in Congress would raise flood premiums so much that many coastal residents could be forced to sell their homes. His group has advocated for passage of the Menendez bill but opposes the House measure, saying it would drastically raise premiums while not providing proper oversight of private insurance companies.