New Chatham County flood maps could mean insurance savings - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New Chatham County flood maps could mean insurance savings

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Flood insurance is a requirement for thousands of property owners here along the coast. 

It can be a hard bill to pay at the end of each year. But Tuesday night, many got word that bill could be going down.

FEMA just released its new Flood Hazard Maps for Chatham County, and the City of Savannah just got some valuable praise from federal emergency managers.

Not necessarily, it depends on where your property is. Officials with FEMA held an open house Tuesday night to explain, so I went to find out.

The meeting focused on the new flood hazard maps for Chatham County that show which areas are at the highest risk. The new maps are more accurate and more detailed than the old maps - taking into account factors like storm surge and climate change - meaning the status of your property may now be different.

"It could be changing from the old maps to the new maps, they could be changing from a high risk to a low risk, which is great news for them and a decrease in flood insurance rates,” said FEMA Floodplain Management Coordinator Tom Shillock.

In other words, if your property's zone was downgraded in risk level, you could see savings on your premiums. That was the case for one Skidaway Island resident who was at Tuesday's event.

"First of all, I went over and they actually looked at my particular lot, and then I did find out that there was a decrease in my elevation level as far as going from an 'AE' to an 'X' zone, so I was very pleased with that,” said Marcia Higins, Skidaway Island Resident.

That being said, some may find their property's area has become higher risk - meaning potentially higher premiums. Those maps will take effect in about a year.

Meanwhile, thousands of Savannah residents will see even more savings on flood insurance after FEMA awarded the city with Class 5 certification on Tuesday. They got the designation for meeting certain regulatory standards, and it now means Savannah is in the top 12 highest-rated communities in the country.

Of the almost 7,000 flood insurance policies in the city, many of those in the high-risk flood areas will see a 25 percent reduction in their premiums. Others will see savings of 10 percent.

"The savings in premium reductions are going to be almost $750,000 a year. The policy holders who are in the special flood hazard areas - or the high-risk flood areas - will save an average of $270 on their policy every year,” said FEMA Floodplain Management, Insurance Branch Chief Susan Wilson.

If your property is one of those areas, those discounts will be applied automatically when you renew your flood insurance policy.

If you couldn't be at Tuesday's meeting and are wondering how the new maps affect your property, you can look up your address online to find out, please click here.

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