For many years, the federal government offered subsidized flood insurance on homes and businesses constructed before there were many rules about building close to the water. But premiums haven't been sufficient to cover the payouts, leaving the National Flood Insurance Program billions of dollars in debt. In 2012, Congress passed a law requiring approximately 1.1 million policyholders to start paying rates based on the true risk of flooding. As parts of the law were implemented last year, and as congressional elections approached, the public outcry against the premium hikes swelled. Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation pulling back some of the insurance overhaul. President Obama signed that bill on Friday.
Instead of facing onerous increases immediately, affected homeowners will be hit with annual premium increases as high as 18 percent year after year, while owners of businesses and second homes face annual increases of 25 percent. The program's debt, now at $24 billion, will barely be dented.
The Associated Press has produced a special report, complete with data on more than 18,000 communities nationwide, which details how the rising premiums, even spread out over years, will have a devastating, long-term impact on many homeowners and communities.
The AP IMPACT story of 2,300 words, slugged FLOOD INSURANCE, has moved for use in print Monday, March 24, and online after 3 a.m. EDT Monday. An abridged version of 1,080 words also has moved.
There will be 50 state sidebars, plus the District of Columbia, using localized data. Customers previously were invited to download the data to produce local stories. (A password is required to access the data via FTP.)
Photos accompanying the national story are moving, on hold until Monday, from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, with the same embargo. Some states also will provide photos with their sidebars.
The package will include a graphic showing the number of flood insurance policies facing annual premium increases, the number facing increases up to 18 percent and the number facing increases of 25 percent per year. We will also provide a zoom-able, rollover interactive map showing the number of policies facing increases by amount of increase, total number receiving premium subsidies and the number of policies in place.
A video package will be provided from Jersey Shore, Pa.
The digest line:
AP IMPACT: FLOOD INSURANCE
JERSEY SHORE, Pa. — This small, central Pennsylvania river town doesn't have beach homes or boardwalks, but it shares more than a name with the famous stretch of New Jersey coastline 250 miles to the east. Both are among the thousands of places across the U.S. where people could be in trouble in the years ahead because of the rising cost of government-mandated flood insurance. The president is set to sign a bill putting the brakes on a 2012 overhaul that was supposed to gradually end the government's costly practice of offering subsidized insurance for homes and businesses put up in flood zones before there were many rules about building close to the water. But the pocketbook pain for many has merely been delayed. AP Special Report includes National Flood Insurance Program data on more than 18,000 communities, in all 50 states. By David B. Caruso. With photos, interactive, graphic, video. Abridged version and state sidebars.