FEMA changes flood insurance rates; what policy holders on the Grand Strand could expect

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – There are some changes to FEMAS National Flood Insurance Programs starting Friday.

New rates will use modern data to better reflect a property’s flood risk with several factors, including frequency of flooding, distance to water sources, elevation, cost to rebuild and flood mitigation activities. Before, the factors were flood insurance rate map zone and base flood elevation.

“We haven’t updated the flood maps or the rating system since the 70’s. Maps have been updated and the methodology was based on the 1970’s. It doesn’t reflect actual risk and what we found was that a lot of folks were paying more than their fair share and some folks were paying what the real cost were,” former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said.

That will lower premiums for almost 1.2 million policy holders.

Officials said flood insurance rates have used an outdated system for decades. This caused some owners of high-value property to be charged too little while many of those who live in less expensive properties were charged too much. Here is what this could mean for those on the Grand Strand.

“When you look at counties across the state, you’ve got Horry County a quarter of policy holders in that county are going to see decreases under this new risk rating program,” project manager for the Pew Charitable Trusts, Laura Lightbody said.

The changes come as thousands more homes in the Myrtle Beach area are expected to be threatened by flooding in the next few decades.

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