Pennsylvania launches flood insurance task force

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A new Flood Insurance Premium Task Force in Pennsylvania will look for ways to make flood insurance more affordable and accessible in the Keystone State, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office announced.

Pennsylvania’s state government has created a Flood Insurance Premium Task Force charged with recommending tactics to make flood insurance more affordable and expand access to flood coverage in the Keystone State, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office announced.

“The task force … will bring together leaders from my administration and the legislature to closely review the needs of our communities who are at an increased risk of flooding,” Shapiro said in a press release announcing the task force. “They’ll identify the kinds of programs that would make sure flood insurance is accessible and affordable for the Pennsylvanians who need it and recommend the best courses of action our Commonwealth can take to help increase the number of Pennsylvanians protected by flood insurance.”

2023 flooding in Pennsylvania

Commonwealth communities weathered 147 floods or flash floods in 2023 — a 153% increase over 2022’s number of floods, according to National Centers for Environmental Information data. Seven people died in a flash flood that swept through Bucks County on July 15, 2023.

Even though most homeowners policies don’t cover flooding, an area’s risk of weather hazards directly affects the cost of home insurance. While the majority of Pennsylvanians in flood-prone areas can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), some may need to turn to private flood insurance for additional protection.

Flood insurance costs

The average annual cost of an NFIP policy in Pennsylvania is currently $1,075, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency data. That average will likely rise to around $2,060 as the NFIP gradually moves toward risk-based pricing.

Federal law controls NFIP premiums, holding them below market rates and limiting their rise to no more than 18% per year for most homeowners. However, recent changes in how NFIP calculates premiums and in federal flood zones may mean more Pennsylvanians will be seeking flood insurance.

“FEMA’s revised flood maps now require more Pennsylvania properties to hold flood insurance, and many owners are struggling to meet that requirement,” Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys said.

The NFIP wrote 45,322 policies in Pennsylvania in 2023, with total written premiums topping $55.5 million. The program paid out $923,034 for Pennsylvanians’ claims so far this year, FEMA data shows.

Homeowners struggling with the cost of an NFIP policy may consider private flood insurance. But it can be difficult to predict whether private insurance will be cheaper than an NFIP policy. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department notes that homeowners who move from an NFIP policy to private flood insurance and then decide to go back to an NFIP policy may face significant premium increases.

What’s next

As climate change causes more severe and frequent storms, flooding, and flash floods, home and flood insurance costs continue to rise in many areas across the country. For affected homeowners, forgoing flood insurance won’t be an option. Federal law requires homes in FEMA-designated flood zones to be covered by flood insurance, and not carrying it could cause problems with mortgage companies.

Pennsylvanians interested in learning about private flood insurance options can find information and a listing of licensed insurers on the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website.

This article originally appeared on Insurify and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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