Here in Northwest Arkansas, we always have the potential to experience a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Heavy downpours bring threats of flash floods and storm-related power outages. Because of these threats, you need to make sure your Flood Insurance is intact and up to date. And there may be some major changes on the way.
FEMA’s New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Northwest Arkansas
Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made its Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) available for view. The maps cover certain municipalities and unincorporated areas in northwest Arkansas. Those include Elm Springs, Elkins, Farmington, Fayetteville, Greenland, Johnson, Springdale, West Fork, Tontitown, Winslow, Lincoln, Prairie Grove, Goshen and unincorporated areas of Washington County.
The FIRMS for Washington County are used in part to set rates for flood insurance. Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) as marked on the maps are deemed to be at high risk for flooding. Communities and residents can use the information to make informed decisions about building, development, and flood insurance. FEMA is encouraging residential and commercial property owners to review the latest information to learn about local flood risks and potential future flood insurance requirements.
You can find FEMA’s Flood Map Changes Viewer here. Specialists are available by telephone at 1-877-FEMA-MAP (1-877-336-2627) or by email at FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com. You can also use a live chat service about flood maps (just click on the “Live Chat” icon).
Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage on their own and require special flood insurance. There are cost-saving options available for those newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone. Learn more about your flood insurance options by visiting https://www.floodsmart.gov or talking with us here at Farris Insurance.
FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0
If you have or are considering purchasing flood insurance, you also need to know that FEMA is rolling out a new risk rating system. It’s called Risk Rating 2.0. It’s the first major update to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) pricing system in 50 years.
Most flood insurance policies are backed by FEMA’s NFIP. That means Risk Rating 2.0 could affect most flood insurance policies and what you pay.
The new system incorporates more factors than just a location and elevation on a map. It includes advances in technology such as catastrophe models, actuarial science, and cost to rebuild. FEMA coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and insurance industry experts, among others.
Risk Rating 2.0 will kick in for any new policies after October 1, 2021. All existing policies will switch over to the new model by April 1, 2022.
Will FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 Raise or Lower Flood Insurance?
FEMA has predicted that flood insurance rates will go down for lower-cost properties but go up for more expensive properties. The agency says any premium increases will happen gradually, according to existing statutory limits.
One important thing to keep in mind is that FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 applies to businesses as well as homeowners. According to Business Insurance, commercial properties account for 4%, or 199,394, of total NFIP policies. The website says the new pricing system could give businesses increased incentives to mitigate against flood risk or to locate new businesses in areas prone to flooding.
Commercial Property Insurance Doesn’t Cover Flooding
One thing to keep in mind when purchasing insurance is that commercial property insurance does not cover flood damage. You’ll have to buy a separate flood insurance policy to protect your office space from the cost of flood damage.
Arkansas Deems Benton County Residents Ineligible for April 2021 Flood Assistance
On April 28, 2021, parts of Benton County saw six to eight inches of rain in a matter of two hours, leading to serious flooding.
But in May 2021, the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management denied a request for individual assistance in Benton County. The agency deemed damage assessment and insurance coverage from late April floods did not meet the criteria for assistance.
USDA Will Assist Farmers, Ranchers and Communities Affected by April 2021 Storms in Arkansas
However, the USDA announced on May 28, 2021 that it would aid with flooding recovery efforts in Arkansas. The efforts will help residents, farmers and ranchers affected by the devastation.
To find out what assistance might be available to you, visit farmers.gov or your local USDA Service Center. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are responding and providing a variety of flexible programs and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and affected communities.
Risk Management and Disaster Assistance for Agricultural Operations
The USDA has several risk management and disaster assistance options to help agricultural producers recover after the impact of flooding, high winds and hail. Even before disasters strike, USDA provides tools for producers to manage their risk through the Federal Crop Insurance Program, a public-private partnership between USDA’s Risk Management Agency and private companies and agents. For crops that do not have crop insurance available, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) is available through the local Farm Service Agency. This risk protection includes crop production loss and tree loss for certain crop insurance products. Producers should reach out to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office for more information.
Producers that signed up for Federal Crop Insurance or NAP who suffer losses are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.
Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available. There are several disaster programs for them. Key programs offered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency include:
- The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or loss of feed and grazing acres.
- The Tree Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate or replant and clean-up damage to orchards and vineyards that kill or damage the tree, vines or shrubs. NAP or Federal Crop Insurance often only covers the crop and not the plant.
- The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.
USDA reminds producers that it’s critical to keep accurate records to document damage or loss and to report losses to your local USDA Service Center as soon as possible.
Additionally, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It can help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. USDA can also assist local government sponsors with the cost of recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization. This can address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) also has a variety of loans available including emergency loans triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs.
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet (PDF, 4.7 MB), and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.
Farris Insurance Can Help You With Flood Insurance
If you’re looking to get Flood Insurance protection, Farris Insurance can help. We serve businesses and people across Northwest Arkansas, including Springdale, Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers, and throughout Benton and Washington Counties. Contact us today at (479) 756 – 6330.