County of Marin - News Releases - Flood Insurance Rates

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2016

County Receives Break on Flood Insurance Rates

New qualification leads to 15 percent discount for those in unincorporated areas

San Rafael, CA – Nearly 1,900 Marin County property owners living in unincorporated areas are going to get a break on federal flood insurance premiums courtesy of the County of Marin efforts.

A flooded house is reflected in flood watersNearly 1,900 property owners in Marin County have flood insurance policies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted an audit of the local program last spring following about two years of intense analysis and documentation by County staff on flood reduction efforts. County staff members – documenting the effort in four 4-inch-thick binders – were notified recently of the audit results which allow County residents paying for flood insurance to get a 15 percent discount on their annual premiums.

People paying for flood insurance don’t need to do anything to receive the break; FEMA expects the discounts to take effect as flood insurance policies are renewed after May 2016. The discount will be identified as a line item labeled “CRS discount” on annual insurance bills. Senior Engineer Roger Leventhal said rates in unincorporated areas average about $1,400 annually, which would result in a $210 average savings per policy.

The reduction is part of a voluntary national program called the Community Rating System (CRS) offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The CRS, started in 1990, recognizes and encourages floodplain management activities that exceed federal standards. The County of Marin scored well enough on its flood mitigation efforts to qualify for the CRS program.

“This is a huge reward for them. The staff worked really hard,” said Michael Hornick, a Marin resident who serves as a natural hazards program specialist for FEMA. “… Compared to where we were 10 years ago, Marin has made huge strides. This is a good deal for the public.”

The County joins the cities of Novato, Corte Madera, San Anselmo and Ross as CRS qualified communities. Hornick said several others are being evaluated now by FEMA or have expressed interest in the program. Nearly 3.4 million policyholders in 1,148 communities nationwide participate in the CRS, and more than two-third of all flood insurance policies are written in CRS communities.

Flood insurance, required for anyone who has a federally backed home loan, can cost as low as a few hundred dollars a year and up to many thousands depending on a property’s location within a flood plain. Leventhal also cautioned that the federal government is also raising flood insurance premiums, so the new discount will help offset any cost increases. Insurance premiums are set by FEMA and the County has no control or involvement over billing and payments for flood insurance.

There are 4,148 parcels in the FEMA mapped flood zones within the unincorporated parts of Marin, not counting parcels that are government-owned, agricultural land or open space. Of those 4,148 parcels, there were 1,871 flood insurance policies as of November 2015. Those who own their homes outright are not required to have flood insurance.

Leventhal said County and flood district staff will continue to work on efforts that could help improve the discount rate even more. Additional details about flood insurance can be found on the County’s FEMA Flood Information and CRS Program webpage.

Contact:

Roger Leventhal
Senior Flood Control Engineer
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3249
Email: Roger Leventhal
DPW Website