Flood Insurance to Rise in Reno, Sparks

It may come as a surprise to some, but the residents of Washoe County, Nevada, and especially those who live in the Reno-Sparks area, know that they live in an area that is prone to severe flooding.  In fact, the Reno-Sparks area has experienced a major flood at least once per decade ever since the 1950’s.

The worst of these floods happened on New Year’s Day in 1997, which wreaked havoc in six total Nevada counties and racked up $1 billion dollars in damages, over $700 million of which was drained from Washoe County. As Sparks city spokesman Adam Mayberry put it, “the 100 year flood seems to come around every 10 years.”

So when the news broke that the cost of flood insurance for some residents in the area could increase by up to 25% annually, many people felt like they were facing down yet another tragedy. But why the drastic hike in flood insurance premiums?

Massive storms and hurricanes in the Gulf and East coasts (namely Sandy and Katrina) have forced the federally managed National Flood Insurance Program to sink into massive debt with claim payouts far outreaching the revenue gained from premiums. As part of new changes to the program designed to cut into the $24 billion debt incurred, tax payers across the nation will see a boost to their flood insurance premiums, including those in the flood prone region of the Reno-Sparks area.

It is estimated that a total of 1,300 flood insurance policies in Nevada will be effected by the premium hikes, with more than 900 of those raising by 18% each year for the next three years and around 400 policies receiving the 25% increase annually in the same timeframe.

With these increases to premiums, the main concern now for civic leaders and insurers alike is that the new policies may be financially out of reach for those in the Reno-Sparks area who are in legitimate need of flood insurance.

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