Residents of Carroll County's unincorporated areas to receive discounted flood insurance
By Jennifer Turiano
Carroll County Times|
Jun 29, 2018 | 2:05 PM
The Federal Emergency Management Agency presented Carroll County an award for its floodplain management program which will allow residents of the county’s unincorporated areas to get discounted flood insurance, in some cases saving as much as $400 per year.
The award was given to Floodplain Management Specialist Pat Varga at the Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, June 28. Varga has led the Bureau of Resource Management in its journey through the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program since 2007.
“[The National Flood Insurance Program] has minimum requirements that any jurisdiction across the country has to meet, or enforce, or regulate, in order to provide the opportunity for residents that have structures in the FEMA floodplain to buy flood insurance,” Varga said Friday.
So, he said, there are three types of jurisdictions: those that don’t meet minimum threshold requirements, those that do, and those that go beyond them and participate in the Community Ranking System, like Carroll County.
The class ranking of a jurisdiction in CRS is based on the number of points it accrues through floodplain management. The rankings start at Class 10, Varga said, with minimum requirements met, and continue to move up as more measures are taken to decrease the risk of floods and flood damage.
Carroll County entered CRS at Class 8 in 2007 with about 1,000 points accrued in the system. Within the past year, Varga has taken extra measures to bring the county to Class 7 with about 2,000 points. Each ranking level allows residents in that area to save 5 percent in flood insurance.
“That would mean a 5-percent reduction for each class,” the floodplain specialist said. “So Class 9 would be a 5 percent [discount]; Class 8, 10 percent; Class 7, 15 percent; Class 6, 20 percent.
“It’s the kind of thing you can take to your citizens,” Varga said. “We are talking real money at that point. There are some policies that would see upwards of $400 [in savings] a year. When you're talking the lifetime of a 30-year loan, $400 a year adds up over 30 years.
“And the whole point of the program is about reducing risk,” he said.
The award was presented by Heather Davis-Jenkins, of the FEMA Floodplain Management and Insurance Mitigation Division 3, and Kevin Wagner, Community Assistance Program Manager of the Maryland Department of the Environment.
“On behalf of FEMA, I would like to congratulate Carroll County for increasing its level participation in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Ratings System,” Davis-Jenkins said Thursday morning. “Throughout the United States there are over 22,000 communities voluntarily participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. Over 140 are in the State of Maryland.
“To join and remain in the... program each community must meet certain minimum criteria,” she said, “and a small number of these communities — approximately 5 percent of the national total — choose to go above and beyond that requirement… These result in safer communities that are more prepared for future flooding events.”
The Class 7 rating qualifies eligible NFIP policyholders in Carroll County’s unincorporated areas to an average $111 savings on their annual flood insurance premium, with some policies qualifying for more than $400 in annual savings, said Davis-Jenkins.
It comes to a total savings of over $20,000 for citizens of Carroll County.
“Carroll County’s leadership, hard work and accomplishments in floodplain management are to be be celebrated and commended,” she said, “We thank you for your hard work and dedication in implementing these higher standards.”
Varga said things like checking in with customers who experience repetitive loss on an annual basis, logging all phone calls and emails regarding flood insurance concerns and questions, increasing community outreach, and sharing information with residents about the NFIP have all contributed to the point accrual that brought the county to Class 7 for this year.
“CRS is one of these programs that's kind of like the varsity team of the National Flood Insurance Program,” said Wagner, “so you’ve moved up a level and I'd really like to congratulate Carroll County for recognizing floodplain management is important.
“I feel good that Carroll County’s reduction in risk is pretty solid,” he said.
Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, said he wanted to make sure the message was clear to residents at the meeting or watching at home.
“Let me just translate that,” he said. “Any of our citizens with flood insurance on their properties, your premiums are going down because of the good work done by our folks in Resource Management.
Residents with eligible flood insurance policies should see the discount reflected in their policies already, retroactive as of May 1, 2018. If residents in the unincorporated areas of the county do not see those changes reflected, they are encouraged to call Varga at the Department of Land and Resource Management’s Bureau of Resource Management at: 410-386-2844.