Flood management and flood insurance is facing rapid changes in the next few years as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act reforms start to take shape. Subsidized rates were removed for any business property, any severe repetitive loss property, and any residential property that was not the primary residence of an individual. The rates are allowed to be raised by 25% per year until actuarial rates are achieved.

In addition, when flood maps change, a property that has higher rates as a result of a new map shall have the new rates phased in over a five-year period at 20% per year. Premium rate adjustments due to map changes take effect on the effective date of the new map.

The reform act also amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to require explanation of the availability of flood insurance under the NFIP or through private insurance for properties both in and out of Standard Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs).

Finally, the reform establishes an on-going National Flood Mapping Program. Flood maps must show 100-year and 500-year floodplains for all populated areas and areas of possible population growth, as well as areas with residual risk behind levees or below dams. The act also requires mapping of the level of protection provided by flood control structures as well as requiring that new flood maps use the most accurate topography and elevation data available. The flood maps will also now be developed on a watershed basis rather than political subdivisions such as a county or town.

For more information, go to the Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association at www.okflood.org

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