Today we are discussing the recent flood insurance rate map updates for Marion county Mississippi. We want to discuss the history of flooding in Marion county, why the flood insurance map changes, type of flood zones in Marion county and who will be impacted.
Marion county has experienced a history of flooding especially the city of Columbia because of its location along the Pearl river. The major flooding threat for Marion county comes from flash flooding.
We have seen flooding events impact this area in 1938, 1961, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1999, and 2007.
The last flood insurance rate map update for Marion county was in 2011.
So why the update now?
Well this recent flood study showed that the Pearl river impacts more than 75% of the county.
There are three main flood zones in Marion county we want to discuss those zones so we can get a better understanding of who will be impacted. Those flood zones are
- Flood zone X
- Flood zone A
- Flood zone AE
Flood zone X is considered a low risk zone. Flood insurance in this area is not mandatory. The flooding that generally occurs in this area is from flash flooding. Its important to understand this since flash flooding is the main threat for property owners in this area.
Now lets discuss what a flood zone A is. This flood zone was a 1% chance of flooding each year but generally does not contain a base flood elevation. Many rural parts of Marion county fall within this zone since th base flood elevation has not been determined.
Flood zone AE is the highest risk area outside of coastal areas. This area also has a 1% chance of flooding within a given year. The difference is flood zone AE has a determined base flood elevation. A large part of downtown area of Columbia Mississippi falls within this flood risk exposing business owners and government facilities.
So who will be impacted by these changes?
There is a good news and bad news here, Let's talk about the good news first.
There are roughly a 125 property owners who will be removed from high risk flood zones. This means if you have a mortgage that you will be getting a letter from your mortgage company that flood insurance is no longer required on your property.
Now lets talk about the bad news.
Roughly 740 property owners will be moved from low risk areas to high risk areas.
So how will you be notified? Well generally these changes are published in the local newspaper and by the city council.
However if you have a mortgage the notification process will go further. Mortgage companies conduct their audit of the special flood hazard areas.
So let's say you do have a mortgage. Generally you will receive a letter in the mail from your mortgage company stating that your property has been placed in a special flood hazard area. The letter will normally give you 45 days to get coverage in place before the mortgage company purchases a policy on your behalf.
So what are your options then?
Well there are three choices
- Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program
- Flood insurance through the private flood insurance market
- Appeal for a letter of map amendment
National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program also known as NFIP is the government funded flood insurance program. It was originally set up in 1968 to help residents along the Mississippi river.
When these flood insurance rate map changes take place in Marion county there are two options through NFIP.
- Standard flood insurance policy
- Newly mapped policy
You can setup a standard flood insurance policy which generally carries a 30 day wait period with it. This will satisfy the 45 day rule by the mortgage company. However if you are not careful you could be paying more than you should.
If your property was recently moved from a flood zone X to an A or AE then you qualify for newly mapped rates the first 12 months after the change. FEMA gives property owners a break the first year.
Its not uncommon to have a standard rate of $1500 a year and a newly mapped rate of $500 a year. Once the first 12 months is up you will start to see high rate increases until the policy is fully rated.
Don't get disappointed though there is still another option for flood insurance. Residents in Columbia Mississippi and Marion county have access to private flood insurance.
So do you qualify for private flood insurance? Well it could depend on the type of loan that you have on the property. Lets discuss some scenarios
- FHA loans-require NFIP policies
- VA loans- allow private flood insurance
- USDA loans- allow private flood insurance
- Conventional loans- allow private flood insurance
So what are the benefits to having a private flood insurance policy in Mississippi?
Private Flood NFIP
Coverages above $250k Coverage up to $250k
Contents above $100k Contents up to $100k
Living expenses available Living expenses not available
Premium savings up to 50% FEMA sets the rates
As you can see there are some big differences between the NFIP and private flood insurance. Its important that you understand all the options in Columbia Mississippi. Both flood insurance options have strict guidelines for cancellations. NFIP only lets you move a policy to the private market at the renewal. On private you can move a policy from one company to the next but you could lose a lot of money.
Many private flood insurance companies in Mississippi have minimum earned guidelines that range from 25-100%. This means that if you cancel they keep that portion of the premium.
As you can see with these changes come alot of moving parts and it can be difficult to truly understand your flood risk. So if you have questions about these new flood zones in Columbia and Marion county make sure to visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also check out our Youtube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru or our podcast The Flood Guru.