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While it certainly came with good intentions, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 has had a number of negative consequences that Pennsylvanians are not so fond of. One of its implications is that many Pennsylvanians who need flood insurance first need to have an elevation certificate created and submitted. Keep reading to find out more about these certificates, when they’re needed, and how you can get the insurance you need while bypassing the whole process.
The Elevation Certificate
Elevation certificates attest to the elevation of a structure based on the BFE (Base Flood Elevation) as decided on by FEMA. This information is used for a number of reasons. Any Pennsylvanian who wants to get flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program will need to submit an elevation certificate first. It will be mandatory for any structures built after the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 or any that were seriously renovated after that time. Buildings that were built prior to the act passing can still be submitted if their owners wish to get better rates. In all of these cases, elevation certificates will be necessary.
Obtaining Your Elevation Certificate
As I said, if you are hoping to secure insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, you will need to submit an Elevation Certificate. Before paying to have one done, check to make sure that one hasn’t already been created for your property. You can do this by checking with your property developer or officials in the community. They may have prepared their own for regulatory reasons related to floodplains.
Only those with proper certification can prepare an elevation certificate on your behalf. These people are generally engineers, architects, or surveyors who are authorized by state or local officials.
Fortunately, you can bypass a lot of red tape and save between $500 and $1,000 by getting your flood insurance through select agencies. Williams Agency is one such example. They have a special arrangement where they can secure flood insurance for their clients without having to obtain an elevation certificate first.
If you’re looking to secure a loan that requires you to receive flood insurance first, or you’re simply looking to comply with the new regulations of BW-12, you may have heard that you need an elevation certificate to continue. Fortunately, that’s one cost you can leave by the wayside. So long as you pick Williams Agency, you can get the insurance you need with one less cost involved.
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When the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was passed, the hope was that it would help dig the National Flood Insurance Program out of the financial debt it had found itself in after Katrina and a number of other natural disasters added billions of dollars to its costs. After reaching $24 billion in debt, lawmakers believed it was necessary to update the rates people received through NFIP subsidies.
The Current Effects in Pennsylvania
While FIRM had good intentions, many who have already seen its effects are responding negatively to the steep hikes in insurance rates they’ve had to incur. In Pennsylvania, 34,500 policyholders are expected to be affected by FIRM. If each is to see their rates increase, many analysts are anticipating potentially disastrous results.
Property values will most likely fall, especially in areas where flood risks are deemed to be especially high. Unfortunately, foreclosure numbers in Pennsylvania could begin to climb, too, as more and more owners struggle to pay their mortgage in light of increases to their flood insurance. If this happens, a loss in tax revenues could mean an increase in taxes to make up ground.
Many who think they may not be affected because they don’t live in areas likely to be hit by a flood are having rude awakenings. Insurance rates through NFIP are going up all over Pennsylvania to offset the overall costs.
However, in some extreme cases, truly unheard of increases are occurring. Many policyholders have reported seeing their rates double or even triple. Some have even claimed their rates are now ten times as expensive as before.
September and Other Triggers
Although some policyholders have felt the brunt of FIRM already, most of the 34,500 Pennsylvanians expected to be affected won’t experience a change to their rates until September. However, others won’t experience a change to their rates at all until a triggering event, like purchasing a new policy or selling the property. At that time, their rates may increase considerably.
FIRM will also require a number of policyholders to obtain elevation certificates. These certificates will be necessary for all owners whose buildings were built after FIRM was passed or who otherwise seriously renovated theirs.
Fortunately, Williams Agency can help make the most out of this tough time for many Pennsylvanians. Not only can they offer flood insurance, but they can also obtain it with a number of savings. Amongst other things, Williams Agency can secure flood insurance without an elevation certificate.
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Flood insurance rates in Pennsylvania are making headlines as the rest of the nation also deals with increased costs for coverage. While every area is different, the increased rates are occurring due to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Keep reading for a better understanding of how you might be affected.
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012
Passed in July of 2012, BW-12 was meant to update the National Flood Insurance Program, which has its roots back in the late ‘60s. While the NFIP operated for decades without issue, a string of hurricanes and tropical storms over the last ten years has pushed the program billions of dollars over budget. As a result, amongst other things, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 will end up increasing many people’s coverage by updating their area’s risk for flooding.
The BW-12 in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, about 34,500 subsidized policies are expected to be affected by the legislation in BW-12. This is a little less than half the estimated 74,000 subsidized policies held by residents of Pennsylvania.
Outrage has already been voiced by many of these policyholders as they have incurred higher rates. This has happened to roughly 5,000 commercial properties and about 4,000 non-primary residences so far. Most Pennsylvanians will see their rates modified in September.
These haven’t been small increases, however, in many of the cases. In areas considered especially at risk, many homeowners have seen their rates double. Others have even seen rates triple, and there have been reports of people even seeing their costs go up tenfold.
Besides the immediate effect of having to pay more, there are other impacts that Pennsylvanians will need to brace for. Property values are expected to fall in areas where flood insurance will increase dramatically. Foreclosures could begin climbing, as well, as residents deal with policies they can’t afford. In many situations, increased rates don’t start until new ownership takes over, meaning many people will be left hanging onto their properties almost indefinitely.
Williams Agency is happy to offer customers the flood insurance they need at reduced rates. One of the reasons we can provide you with such great rates is, unlike much of our competition, we don’t need to require an elevation certificate as mandated under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Just those savings alone could reduce your costs by as much as $1,000.
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With the passing of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, many people have seen their rates change or expect to see them change in the future. This has already been the case for thousands of people in Pennsylvania. As such, many Pennsylvanians are researching how these changes could affect them and their policy. Keep reading for more information about one very important area: elevation certificates.
Elevation certificates are an administrative tool used by the National Flood Insurance Program. This government program has been in operation since 1968 and has helped subsidize countless insurance policies for property owners across the country.
The National Flood Insurance Program uses elevation certificates to decide insurance premiums. Elevation certificates can also be used to record elevation information used to ensure that community floodplain management regulations are being met. They’re also used for requesting Letters of Map Amendment or Revision.
Who Needs Elevation Certificates
These certificates are required for any structure built after the Flood Insurance Rate Map was published for Zones A1 to A30, AE, AH, A (with Base Flood Elevation), VE, V1 to V30, V (with Base Flood Elevation), AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1 to A30, AR/AH, and AR/A). You can go online to find out what zone your building is in, and FEMA has many resources that you can use.
For the most part, elevation certificates are only needed for buildings constructed post-FIRM. However, there are some exceptions, which is why it’s a good idea to contact your local insurance agency that handles flood insurance to make sure.
The National Flood Insurance Program requires every relevant community to take on a floodplain management ordinance. In it, the ordinance must specify minimum requirements aimed at reducing losses during a flood. One of these mandatory requirements is to record the elevation of the lowest floor in any new or otherwise renovated buildings. Elevation certificates make it easy to comply with this rule.
Who Can Provide Elevation Certificates?
Only those authorized by the state or local authorities can prepare elevation certificates. These individuals will be engineers, architects, or land surveyors. Community officials authorized by state or local authorities can also sign off on certificates.
At Williams Agency, we’re happy to obtain flood insurance on our clients’ behalf. As many in Pennsylvania have been dismayed by the sharp increase in their insurance rates under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, we’re also happy to pass on as many savings as possible. Fortunately, we are one of the few agencies that can provide you with coverage without obtaining an elevation certificate first.
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