Charleston’s flood insurance premiums will get a discount with improved rating from FEMA

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As seen in this Post & Courier article on June 11, 2021 - The city of Charleston has improved a rating that provides flood insurance discounts to city residents, meaning policyholders will receive a 25 percent discount as early as next spring.

The city received word this week it’s moving from a six to a five in the Community Rating System, a part of the National Flood Insurance Program. The system incentivizes cities to put in place rules or other procedures to avoid flooding and lessen the damage when it does happen.

A lower score is better, with each category translating to an additional 5 percent off of insurance premiums.

The city of Charleston’s new discount will start to apply on April 1, 2022, but Floodplain Manager Stephen Julka said residents who have to pay their annual bill before then should ask for a prorated charge to reflect the change next spring.

Charleston’s is not the best score in the region; unincorporated Charleston County announced last year that it had received a rare CRS score of three, which grants a 35 percent premium reduction.

Several changes accounted for the improved discount in the city, Julka said.

“We have been doing a lot of work on acquiring and demolishing repeatedly flooded properties, and we get points for that.”

Dozens of properties across the city have been torn down after a succession of floods, in particular around Church Creek, in outer West Ashley. Julka said he expects to get final confirmation soon for two more home buyouts, also in that area of Charleston.

Another factor leading to Charleston’s new discount was the amount of green space in the city, Julka said, which had to be carefully documented and sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for review.

Charleston has had several challenges in administering its flood insurance program in the past few years, and is still working through an open audit and working to document damage and repair from floods in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There are about 25,500 flood insurance policies in the city, and FEMA relies on local communities to carry out complex regulatory and record-keeping aspects of the flood insurance program.

The city has struggled in particular to document storm damage that might have required homeowners to elevate or demolish their homes, a Post and Courier investigation found.

Julka said that documentation is one of the items the city is still working through in its audit, but in a review of about 800 homes so far, none were found to meet the threshold that would have required additional floodproofing.

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