Mapping Error Raises Flood Insurance Premiums

June 10, 2002

Officials in Pennsylvania’s Richland Township will ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to correct official maps of the area, that incorrectly designate certain properties as located on a flood plain.

An article in the Allentown Morning Call indicated that the FEMA map, an updated version issued last June, incorrectly shows about 40 homes in the Richland Mead II development as being situated on a flood plain. Property owners in areas so designated are required to obtain federal flood insurance with premiums starting at around $300. It also raises mortgage costs, and makes the properties more difficult to sell.

The FEMA has acknowledged the error, and will correct the maps, but an agency spokesman indicated it was not responsible for reimbursing homeowners who may have signed up for flood insurance that wasn’t required. He indicated that the added cost of doing so would increase insurance premiums.

The spokesman also explained that, as the agency has to update hundreds of maps a year, mistakes are bound to happen. Housing developments frequently alter the terrain which the maps cover, increasing the risk of floods.

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