N.J. Group to Rally Against Rising National Flood Insurance Premiums

September 23, 2013

Toms River, N..J., homeowner George Kasimos wants to make sure that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., hear the growing concerns of his shore community and other communities across the country.

Kasimos started a grassroots organization called “Stop FEMA Now” last January to protest the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. The group is planning more than a dozen rallies, to be held on Sept. 28 across the country.

The Biggert-Waters Act is raising flood insurance premiums for many homeowners across the country. But Kasimos told Insurance Journal that raising the flood insurance premiums significantly would devastate many homeowners who are still struggling to recover from last year’s Superstorm Sandy. He also warns the Biggert-Waters Act would adversely affect the property value of many homes and hurt the housing market that has only recently begun to recover.

Kasimos said his annual flood insurance premium was about $1,000 but would rise to approximately $10,000. “It’s no longer affordable — this is happening to every community throughout the nation — whether you live along the Mississippi and you are on a flood zone, if you in a lake community like Lake George, if you live along the coastline, if you live on a flood plain, this is going to affect you the same way.”

Elevating homes is also turning out to be an unaffordable option for many homeowners facing higher premiums, he said. Homeowners who elevate their homes in compliance with guidelines would see lower flood insurance rates but raising homes can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.

“My home has a certain value today. When you raise (the flood insurance premium) to $10,000 a year…my property value goes down significantly,” Kasimos said. He added that some 30 percent of Americans who own homes are senior citizens on a fixed income and they would not be able to afford additional expenses such as higher flood insurance premiums.

He said more than a dozen Stop FEMA Now rallies have been scheduled for Sept. 28. Rallies are slated to be held in several Northeast locations including: Toms River, N.J.; Mountainside, N.J.; Seaside Park, N.J.; Staten Island, N.Y.; Broad Channel, Queens, N.Y.; Valley Stream, N.Y.; Lindenhurst, N.Y.; Scituate, Mass.; and Montpelier, Vt. Addition rallies are also scheduled in Raceland and Lulling, La.; Tampa Bay, Fla.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with more locations to be announced.

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