N.H. Flood Insurance Sales Up 26%

August 17, 2006

The purchase of flood insurance in New Hampshire has risen by 26.2 percent since May of last year — a jump attributed to October’s flooding and some updated maps that identified new areas at risk.

Policy purchases in New Hampshire through the National Flood Insurance Protection program rose from 5,421 to 6,842 between May 2005 and May 2006, according to figures supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the request of Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Only Mississippi had a greater percentage increase in the same one-year period, jumping 41.4 percent, from 42,730 to 60,435 policies. Still, the growth in flood insurance is a national trend, with three times as many policies written since last May compared with the previous 12-month period.

Congress enacted the flood insurance program in 1968. It makes policies available to communities that comply with federal guidelines.

Jennifer DeLong, the New Hampshire assistant coordinator for the program, said flood insurance inquiries peaked in the state in July and November.

The first came after FEMA completed one stage of updates to New Hampshire flood plain maps through the nationwide Flood Map Modernization program. The maps are used to set flood insurance rates and identify households required to have the insurance.

“I had many calls last year from people saying, ‘I lived here 20 years and I never needed (flood) insurance before,”‘ DeLong said.

The second spike came after October, when major flooding in Alstead and surrounding communities in the southwest corner of the state took the lives of seven people.

The months following these two events brought the largest monthly increases in flood insurance enrollment during the year.

DeLong said the map modernization program affected many people because newly digitized aerial maps showed more homes than previously thought were in areas at risk of flooding. Updated maps have been created in Rockingham, Strafford, Cheshire and Sullivan counties but are in progress elsewhere in the state through 2009.

Other states that saw an impressive one-year increase in flood insurance policies were Idaho, with 20.5 percent, Texas, with 17.9 percent, and South Carolina, with 13.2 percent.

Louisiana only saw a 9.6 percent increase, but it already had the fourth-highest number of policy enrollees before Hurricane Katrina, at 381,075. Florida leads the country, with 2,065,573 policies in force.

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