However, FEMA, which oversees the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) insurance, isn't completely powerless, and it came up with a few small but meaningful program changes that make it easier for households to switch to private insurance coverage if they can get a better deal.
First, the agency lifted the requirement that households retain their federal coverage if they switch to private insurance before their coverage term is up. Prior to this change, homeowners had to maintain their federal coverage even after switching to private coverage, which meant they often had to pay two sets of premiums at once.
Second, insurance companies that offer federal NFIP coverage can now also offer private coverage at the same time – either a policy offered by their own or another company. Prior to this change, companies that offered the federal option were prohibited from providing a private alternative.
The agency also made two other small changes to make life easier for homeowners who appear to be in a flood zone:
- If a homeowner's state uses what's known as LiDAR technology to collect elevation data, owners can now use that data to demonstrate they don't need flood insurance. That can save them as much as $2,000 on the cost of a separate elevation certificate. The downside here is many states are not yet using the new technology to collect elevation data, though Minnesota and North Carolina are two examples of those that do.
- FEMA's procedures for newly mapped flood areas will be extended to apply to more properties. That means more owners will be able to start their premiums at a lower rate and only gradually reach responsibility for full premiums.
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