Readjust premiums for flood insurance

The need to change National Flood Insurance Program rates make sense. How those rates impact property owners in different states does not.

Since it began in 1978, the flood insurance program has paid more than $50 billion in claims. But losses largely due to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy left the program in a $24 billion hole.

So an adjustment in rates is in order.

But nearly one-third of those claims between Jan. 1, 1978, and Jan. 31, 2014 – more than $16 billion – were paid to owners of homes and businesses in Louisiana. During that time, losses in Ohio accounted for less than a half percent of those claims – $284 million.

Yet Ohioans who own properties in flood zones pay an average premium of $871, on an average policy value of $167,000. Meanwhile, owners of property in Louisiana pay $760 per year for $236,000 worth of flood insurance coverage.

Certainly, actuarial rates need to rise, but they also need to reflect risk.

Some Seneca County residents and business owners face steep increases in their premiums. Although the rate hikes now are to be phased in more slowly, Congress should see that the rates are reviewed nationwide to more accurately mirror exposure.