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March 24, 2014

Some North Country flood-insurance rates going up

PLATTSBURGH — North Country residents in areas at risk for flooding will now face a different kind of hazard: an increase in flood-insurance premiums.

In flood-prone areas, homeowners will see annual flood insurance rate increases of up to 18 percent, while some businesses and owners of second homes will see annual increases of up to 25 percent, both effective until the policyholder switches to a risk-based rate.

The increase in federally subsidized flood insurance premiums comes as part of a series of changes intended to overhaul the financially troubled National Flood Insurance Program, according to an Associated Press review of data from the federal government. The changes made it a requirement for policyholders to begin paying risk-based rates; however, a new law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama will delay the very steep increases that some homeowners faced.

Nevertheless, rates will still continue to rise, with nearly 60,000 policyholders in New York State among the 1.1 million affected nationwide.

The percent of flood insurance policies facing rate increases varies by community. In Bombay, 83% of flood insurance policies face rate increases. 56% of policies in Willsboro, 25% of policies in Jay, 54% of policies in Saranac Lake, and 64% of policies in the Village of Malone will see rate increases.

Considering the number of subsidized policies per 1,000 of the population (including only primary residences, multifamily buildings and condominiums), the Town of Jay has the highest proportion, with slightly less than four subsidized policies per 1,000. Jay has also made the highest number of insurance claims since joining the program, with 187 claims made — no surprise, given the devastation following Hurricane Irene and repeated flooding of the Ausable River.

For the number of subsidized policies per 1,000 of population, Fort Covington is next, with slightly less than three. However, they have yet to file a claim. Of Fort Covington policies, 43 percent will see rate increases.

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