NEW ORLEANS – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Landrieu and City officials reminded residents that new flood insurance rates are going into effect on Sept. 30, 2016. More than 53 percent of all properties in New Orleans were removed from Special Flood Hazard Areas (“A” zones) and as a result, will benefit from more affordable flood insurance.
“The flood map updates for New Orleans will make a huge difference for our residents and property owners, potentially saving thousands of dollars,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “I encourage every resident to invest in flood insurance even if you live outside of a flood zone. With the new maps, flood insurance is more affordable than ever. It is too costly not to make this investment.”
City Council President Jason Williams said, “This is worth celebrating. This is a very big deal, but it did not happen by accident. A lot of hard work went into it, and I just want to thank all involved.”
District D Councilmember Jared Brossett said, “The new FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map is a potential victory for the New Orleans region that I’ve been fighting for since my time as a state legislator. The original map could have resulted in mandatory flood insurance coverage for most residents and higher premiums that had the potential to push homeowners and businesses out of New Orleans. Now, a majority of the city will see cost savings and significantly lower premiums.”
The new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Maps will affect approximately 85,000 policies in New Orleans. As of September 2015, the average flood insurance policy was $961. The cost of flood insurance in non-hazard areas (“X” Zones) is cheaper than in areas with a higher statistical risk of flooding. Any changes to homeowners’ and business owners’ insurance premiums would be made through their insurance companies. The City strongly encourages all residents to have flood insurance, even if it is not required by their lender.
Under the new flood maps, rates will stay the same for 44 percent of properties and increase for 3 percent of properties. Rates for properties no longer in a flood zone will decrease to about $500 a year for $250,000 worth of coverage
After receiving the Letter of Final Determination from FEMA, the City introduced an ordinance to adopt the flood maps at the April 7, 2016 New Orleans City Council meeting. The Council adopted the new maps May 5. The final flood map indicates that many areas have been changed from A zones to X zones due to the reconstruction of the hurricane risk reduction system and significant drainage improvements following Hurricane Katrina.
The City’s Department of Safety and Permits has worked with FEMA to enhance development regulations that will ensure maximum protection for people and property and will ultimately reduce premiums by an additional 15 percent citywide. The new flood maps adopted by the City Council require homes to be either three feet above the curb height or one foot above the flood elevation as determined by the maps, whichever is higher. The new elevation requirements only affect new construction and substantial improvements permitted after the proposed effective date of June 1, 2016.
In November 2015, FEMA ruled in favor of the City’s appeal of the 2014 revised flood maps, which incorrectly placed Algiers Point area within a flood hazard area and had not taken into account significant improvements completed by the City and Sewerage and Water Board since the revised maps were developed. The City appealed the 2012 preliminary flood maps in 2013 indicating that the Base Flood Elevations that FEMA’s data established did not match actual ground elevation in the City and did not account for the presence of elevated railroad tracks in Venetian Isles. These revisions to the flood maps helped make flood insurance more affordable for area residents.