A new Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for North Bend and surrounding properties in King County will be made effective shortly after April 19, 2005. This map has been under review for several years.
Adoption of this map will mean that about 500 additional properties in and around North Bend will be located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and will require flood insurance if there is a nonprivate loan or mortgage on the property.
In my opinion, it is extremely important that property owners in these new areas obtain flood insurance before March 19, 2005. One might ask, “Why before the new map goes into effect?” The answer is that there is a 30-day waiting period requirement before new flood applications are effective, or in force.
A second logical question is, “Why not just wait until the lending institution (bank, mortgage company, credit union) requires flood insurance?” The answer is that property owners will pay two to three times as much, or more, for flood insurance if they wait until after the new FIRM is in effect. Additionally, those who wait may be required to obtain an elevation certificate to determine the exact elevation of the bottom floor of their home or business. Licensed surveyors charge $300 to $500 for preparing elevation certificates.
The good news is that property owners can substantially reduce their flood insurance costs if they purchase flood insurance based on their current FIRM zone. Acting immediately, property owners affected by the new FIRM can limit their costs to about one-third the cost of waiting until after the new FIRM is effective.
These examples illustrate the cost savings of immediate action:
Flood insurance for a business building in downtown North Bend valued at $500,000 will generate a flood premium based upon current flood Zone X of $1,200. A property owner who waits until after the new FIRM is in effect will pay about $3,000. Plus, if one waits there is the surveyor’s fee of about $300-500 for an elevation certificate, if required.
A typical home valued at $250,000 will cost about $700 per year in the X Zone before March 19, 2005, vs. $1,275 per year if purchased after the new map is in force. Some homeowners will require an elevation certificate as well.
The new flood map is available at the North Bend City Hall or its Community Development Office, which is located on Fourth Street Northeast across from the King County Library. A copy may be purchased for $10. In addition, area insurance agents who sell flood insurance may have the maps. Property owners who may be impacted by the new FIRM are encouraged to call their insurance agents immediately to discuss their individual need for flood insurance.
In summary, property owners have an opportunity to reduce the cost of their future flood insurance if they act immediately. This includes both business property owners and homeowners.
Editor’s note: Jim Gildersleeve is a longtime North Bend resident who is a Farmers Insurance Group agent. He also served on the North Bend City Council from 1994 through 2002 and was an active member of the City’s Flood Hazard Reduction Commission.