By John Lynds
The City of Boston Community Engagements Director for Environment, Energy and Open Space Lauren Zingarelli appeared at Boston community meeting Monday to discuss the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps that go into effect on March 16, 2016 and tell residents how they can get more information.
While the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) and city officials hosted a community open house Tuesday night in Dorchester, Zingarelli said an upcoming meeting in Revere might be more convenient for residents here who missed that meeting.
That meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the James J. Hill Elementary School Cafeteria, 51 Park Ave., Revere. Zingarelli said while this meeting would not be sponsored by the City of Boston the same information will be made available to residents who missed the Boston meeting Tuesday night.
However, Zingarelli warned that although the flood maps have been adopted by the city, FEMA and city officials will not be able to tell individual homeowners or business owners whether or not they will have to take out additional flood insurance.
“If you have a federally backed loan you will have to speak with your loan company to determine whether or not you need flood insurance,” said Zingarelli. “We can not determine that for people who attend these meetings. We can only provide information and how to move forward.”
Two years ago FEMA came out with their new maps for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) two years ago. With most of the neighborhoods being surrounded by water meant more homes and businesses would have to pay higher premiums for insurance under the new maps.
Boston adopted the maps so property owners can qualify to purchase and maintain federally subsidized flood insurance through the NFIP. The city is also eligible to receive federal disaster assistance in the case of a flood emergency by adopting the maps.
At the state level, legislators passed the flood insurance protection bill, arguing that the new flood zone maps could lead to significant increases in flood insurance premiums for coastal property owners with NFIP policies and will likely require some property owners to purchase flood insurance for the first time.
The bill was signed by former Governor Deval Patrick and allows home and business owners to purchase flood insurance based on the balance of their mortgage rather than having to pay unaffordable premiums.
The bill bans lenders for requiring property owners here and across the state from requiring more flood insurance than what is left on any particular loan. Tying the amount of coverage to the outstanding balance rather than the replacement value of the home will lower premiums for those impacted by the change. Creditors are also banned from including a deductible of less than $5,000 and requiring coverage for contents of the home.
For example if a home is appraised at $300,000 but there in only $100,000 left on the note the home or business would only need to purchase $100,000 worth of coverage.