Local homeowners feel flood insurance rate spike - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Local homeowners feel flood insurance rate spike

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Less than two years after Congress approved a bill to overhaul federal flood insurance, lawmakers want to undo many of the changes because the increase in premiums is too high.

The bill originally was meant to make people living in flood-prone areas pay more for insurance, but lawmakers didn't realize how many homeowners, who in many cases are required to buy insurance, would see dramatic premium increases.

The Federal Flood Insurance Program is in debt $24 billion. The Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 raised insurance rates to improve funding. But the increase means many can't afford coverage.

About 2,000 property owners in La Crosse are considered at flood risk, including Theresa Secord and Richard Hurst. They've lived on Liberty Street on La Crosse's Northside for 17 years and have never made a flood claim. Last year their insurance rates went up from $550 to $3,600.

Secord said "Between property taxes and flood insurance we're paying $506 a month on top of a mortgage, we're just not going to do that."

Their rates went up because they re-financed and that 2012 Federal policy triggered an increase in rates.

Doug Kerns, Engineer for the City of La Crosse, said he had no idea it was going to impact this community as bad as it did.

La Crosse has the 2nd most number of flood insurance policies in the state, behind only Green Bay.

Congressman Ron Kind is concerned because the federal policy is bad for local real estate.

Cindy Gerke, a local real estate agent said "No one wants to purchase a home that's in a flood plain."

Kind admits "this is a beautiful place to live, but part of the beauty is we're in the Mississippi Basin and with that comes risk."

On Tuesday the House of Representatives approved a bill called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act ,which, for some property owners, will cap increases in premiums at no more than 16%.

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