UPDATE: 7,700 Wisconsin homeowners to see double-digit rate hike - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: 7,700 Wisconsin homeowners to see double-digit rate hikes for flood insurance

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BELLEVILLE (WKOW) -- About 7,700 home and business owners in Wisconsin will see double-digit flood insurance rate increases for the foreseeable future.  Federal officials are raising premiums in order to bail out the National Flood Insurance Program's $24 billion debt.

Dozens of those homeowners live in floodplains near the Sugar River in Belleville.  But for Rachel Furman, the river has never been a problem.
"We've never had any flooding here," Furman told 27 News, while standing on the porch of the house she purchased in 2006.

Furman's mortgage lender required her to get flood insurance regardless.

"It was 700 dollars for the year....about 4 years ago," said Furman, who let the coverage lapse because of the high cost.

Now Furman's lender is requiring her to purchase flood insurance again, just as the rates are increasing. 

The NFIP incurred its large debt after years of catastrophic weather resulted in claims payments which totaled far more money than the program was taking in through premium payments.  Then in 2012, Congress voted to stop subsidizing the program, causing property owners to pay more real-market rates.  While that initially caused rates to skyrocket by as much as 500 percent, Congress passed a new bill earlier this month to cap the increases to 18 percent each year for homeowners and 25 percent for businesses.

But a few dozen Belleville residents will not have to pay those higher rates.  That's because village officials took it upon themselves to make sure they were exempt.

"If its not truly in a flood zone, it's probably not fair to that resident either, so that's why we got letters of map amendments to state that these properties are actually not in what we consider to not be a floodplain zone," explains Belleville Village Administrator April Little.

FEMA administers the flood insurance program and agreed to exempt those properties from their flood zone maps.  While that takes care of the problem for about 25 homeowners, it won't help Furman.

"I'm disabled, so, I'm on a fixed income.  So that 80 dollars a month, it really makes a big difference for me," said Furman.

Realtors worry the increase in flood insurance rates will have a negative impact on the overall housing market,because properties in flood zones will be even harder to sell.


MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- Nearly 7,700 Wisconsin residents and business owners are facing steep flood insurance premium increases that could threaten their pocketbooks and ability to sell their properties.

La Crosse resident Teresa Secord is among them. The 52-year-old paid $525 for insurance on her home last year. Based on a 2012 law, her bill was going to rise to nearly $3,700, based on true flood risk.

But earlier this month, Congress dialed back that legislation, and now her increase will be capped at 18 percent a year until the proper rate is reached. Policies for second homes and businesses will rise 25 percent a year.

The National flood Insurance Program is billions of dollars in debt because collected premiums have not been able to cover claims paid out.

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