Flood insurance rates for Kansas City residents may drop slightly because of recent mitigation efforts by the Kansas City Water Services Department.
The department recently learned that its status within the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s community rating system has improved. That means commercial and residential structures within Kansas City’s 100-year floodplain can get a 15 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums.
Structures outside that 100-year floodplain can get a 10 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums, department spokeswoman Brooke Givens said.
Since average annual premiums in the floodplain can be about $2,600, that could result in a savings of about $390 per year, she said.
Average annual premiums outside the floodplain can run about $600 per year, so the savings could be about $60 per year.
The department in recent years has done flood control improvements around Brush Creek. More significantly, the Blue River Channel Project, a nearly 50-year flood control effort to protect homes and businesses along the lower Blue River, was finally completed earlier this year. It was a 12-mile-long channel project from near the mouth of the Missouri River upstream to 63rd Street, and involved lowering the floodplain six to eight feet, reducing the flood risk to the Blue Valley.
As a result, Givens said, the number of structures within FEMA’s regulatory floodplain for Kansas City will drop from about 4,500 to 2,500 in early 2017. The Kansas City Water Services Department will send information to affected property owners in the next few months about those changes.
In 2014, Kansas City had a “Class 9 status” within FEMA’s community rating system. After an audit and additional mitigation, it received a Class 7 status, earning the 15 percent reduction in rates. The department is planning other mitigation work to keep improving its status in the future.
People can find out whether they are in FEMA’s regulatory floodplain by going to msc.fema.gov/portal and selecting the interactive map.
There’s also encouraging news for residents of Kansas City, Kan., which has been at level 6 in the CRS program since May 1, 2013. That means that property owners in high risk flood areas in Kansas City, Kan., have been getting a 20 percent discount for more than three years. More information about Kansas is at gis.kda.ks.gov/ksfloodplain/.
While torrential rains and flooding are not uncommon in Kansas City, Mo., the number of property owners with flood insurance still is low. Givens said that, according to FEMA, there are only about 760 active policies, both commercial and residential, in the city.
But the Insurance Information Institute, based in New York, recommends Kansas City area homeowners and businesses consider purchasing flood insurance because of a history of severe flooding incidents.
Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies, but is available from the National Flood Insurance Program and from a few private insurers. Many claims nationally are paid out to policy holders in moderate- to low-risk flood zones.
Standard policies cover burst pipes, wind driven rain and ice dams on a roof but not rising flood waters in a home. Some homeowner policies cover sewer and drain backups but many do not. The Insurance Institute said sewer backup riders can be added to a home’s policy for about $50 per year, with policy limits varying depending on the insurer. That’s a relatively low cost, compared to the thousands of dollars in damage that sewer backups can cause.
A separate flood policy, according to the Institute, provides coverage for up to $250,000 for a home’s structure and up to $100,000 for personal possessions. Some insurers have introduced special policies for high-value properties.
According to an Insurance Information Institute poll this year, only 12 percent of American homeowners had a flood insurance policy, down from the 14 percent in 2015. The percentage of homeowners with flood insurance was highest in the South, at 14 percent, compared to 13 percent in the Northeast, 10 percent in the West, and only 8 percent in the Midwest.