We're going deeper into the fall season and starting this month, we're going to welcome the new Risk Rating 2.0 program from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Along with this update to federal flood insurance, Georgia is facing another challenge with the precipitation that seems to also make updates as rainfall amounts this October 2021 exceed the average.
Today, we want to talk about what this means for Georgia, flood insurance, and flood risks especially with the Risk Rating 2.0.
It Pours in Georgia
Georgia is not even a month away from the flood damage that was brought about by last month's excessive rainfall and sinkholes, but the state's already facing another hurdle as rainfall amounts this Monday (October 4th) exceed the average rainfall amounts every October.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is already issuing flash flood warnings across the state as we're expecting 2 to 5 inches of rain to get dumped on the state within the week. Central Georgia specifically is under close watch from the NWS during this weather pattern.
This flash flood warning only means that it's more likely for Central Georgia to see flooding which is why both FEMA and NWS immediately issued it even before the rain starts pouring. What's equally important to mention is that this type of weather will also impact flood insurance premium rates with the new Risk Rating 2.0 program.
The Lookback: Risk Rating 2.0
As we welcome October and pumpkin spice here and there, we should also welcome the new federal flood insurance program. We're currently in the transition period of changing the flood insurance game with the Risk Rating 2.0.
This new program is deemed equity in action as it aims to provide the most accurate flood insurance rates by using each property's unique flood risks. The new Risk Rating 2.0 program will start to look at multiple flood risk variables or factors in order to finalize your rates and this way it hopes to make it fair for each property owner when they pay flood insurance.
With the flood risk variables kicking in, your property's going to get a final flood risk score that covers addresses your risks and how they contributed to calculating your rate. We'd like to put it simply as "the fingerprint of your flood risks".
These flood risk variables will cover multiple areas concerning your property and the nature of floods. One of the biggest changes is that this new program will only look at flood zones as a regulatory reference. This means that flood zones will no longer impact rates, but can still demand you to get flood insurance if you're in the special flood hazard area (SFHA).
The things that will determine your flood risk and flood insurance rates will cover both things from the legacy program and new things with the Risk Rating 2.0. We've put down a list of the things that are staying and the new kids in the block when in the federal flood insurance scene.
The remaining features are as follows:
- Zone designation in the flood insurance rate map (e.g. special flood hazard areas (SFHA) or preferred flood zones) however flood insurance rate maps will only be used from a regulatory standpoint, not rating.
- Distance to water sources such as a river, creek, lake, or even the coastline
- Prior flood insurance claims or flood claims made with the property
- Policy assumption and grandfather rule
The new things that will come with the Risk Rating 2.0 are as follows:
- Types of floods. This can be either pluvial or the accumulated water due to rain, runoff of collected water that flows from higher areas, storm surge and coastal erosion, dam/levee damage or overflow, and even a combination of these things.
- Flood frequency. How often do these floods happen on your property or in your area?
- First-floor height and elevation of the structure. A new feature that determines your flood risk score is the distance between the ground (grade) from your first floor or the first habitable floor of your property.
- Flood Risk Mitigation Measures made on the property. Is the lowest floor above the base flood elevation? Are there enough flood openings to let floodwaters through?
- Replacement Cost. How much will it cost insurance companies to rebuild or repair your home when damaged?
What The Rainfall Tells
As you can notice, a lot of flood data is coming into play with the Risk Rating 2.0. At the time of writing, about 75% of the properties in Georgia will see an increase in flood insurance premium rates. This increase can be more than $100 per month ($1200 per year).
With this type of change in temperatures, hurricanes being more powerful and frequent, and the same heavy rainfall that the NWS is expecting this week, we may also see a big shift when it comes to rates. In order to understand, we need not look far than the types of flood and flood frequency data that are coming to the state.
This rain simply shows FEMA and the NFIP that flash floods are mostly impacted by how heavy rain is or isn't; ergo the type of flood is mostly pluvial since the geography of Central Georgia seldom has any body of water. However, areas like Brunswick on the eastern coasts will face the trouble of coastal floods.
Equally, if this type of weather pattern persists and the amount of heavy rain continues, we might also see impacts due to flood frequency. Remember that whenever an area received a lot of rain, the ground starts to become oversaturated with water thus continuous rainfall can mean that rain will be like hitting solid cement leading to further and more frequent flooding.
Do Flood Zones Really Matter Anymore?
When we look back at the recent flooding that Georgia experienced in its northern areas especially in Atlanta, the flooding wasn't really because the city was in a high-risk flood zone like Flood Zone A nor is it in the special flood hazard areas (SFHA). On the contrary, Atlanta is one of the cities in Georgia that are mapped into a low-risk flood zone — Flood Zone X specifically — yet they were still flooded.
If we were to move out of Georgia, we can see how New York was flooded during Hurricane Ida. In Tennessee, the small town of Waverly was also heavily damaged due to consistent heavy rainfall back in August which took the life of at least 22 people. Like Atlanta, these areas were also mapped into Flood Zone X.
These events showed us that flood zones don't really determine the amount, frequency, and severity of the flooding your property might get. Flood zones seem to no longer indicate future flood risk and what happened to Atlanta, New York, and Waverly should make us see that flood zones aren't the only driving force when it comes to flooding.
Like we always say here in the Flood Insurance Guru, the 'no-risk zone' never existed and every home can get inundated by water in a blink of an eye. It's always best to prepare for this type of disaster by making sure you're safe and your property is insured.
If you have any questions on flood insurance in Georgia, how to buy one for your property, what are your options, or anything related to floods, reach out to us by clicking below to call us.
You can also access our Flood Learning Center to get quick answers to your flood questions from risks to insurance.
Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand flood risks like heavy rainfall, your flood insurance, and mitigating your property long-term.
Stay safe, Georgia.