Long Island homeowners brace for flood insurance hikes

Elliot Negrin isn't prepared to pay more for flood insurance to cover his home on Merrick Bay. If rates go up, selling his Merrick home is his biggest concern.

"This will really affect me big time. If I was selling my house, it would be almost impossible," Negrin said. "That's the first thing people ask, 'What's your homeowners [insurance]?' and then, 'What's your flood [insurance]?' and once they hear that the flood is $4,000, $5,000, anything like that or even further, it will really deter them from buying a place."

FEMA was set to announce new rates for federal flood insurance on April 1, so that prices people pay would better reflect the risks they face, like how elevated their homes are or how close they are to the water

Under this new approach, about 23% of households with flood insurance would see their rates drop, 73% would see either no change or a minimal increase, but rates would go up significantly for the remaining 4%, mostly wealthy households and many on the south shore of Long Island

"It is important as a public policy to send the right pricing signals, however, it is equally important that we have programs that address equity and affordability issues," said Chad Berginnis, the executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, who supports the FEMA plan and believes rates should be based on risk.

However, the plan has been put on hold, in large part because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has objected to it. 

Schumer's office told FOX 5 NY he believes the flood insurance reform plan could soak not just the rich but also middle-income Long Islanders with increased premiums and lower property values. He said this plan will also affect Staten Islanders and other households on the water across the country.

The next steps are for FEMA to further brief Congress on the impacts of the plan. 

Schumer said he is in touch with FEMA about his concerns and hopes to find a middle ground in the months to come.

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