MYRTLE BEACH — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley wants federal flood insurance rates to increase the same way for everybody, a move she believes would halt an erosion of second home sales in South Carolina.
The rates, for flood insurance coverage on properties in flood zones, are being updated so that the premiums paid by owners cover the actual risk instead of being subsidized by the federal government, as they have been for decades.
A four-year phase-in of the new rates is allowed for some properties, and Haley wants it to be allowed for all properties.
Those that can phase-in the new rates are secondary homes that continue under the same ownership, primary homes that have had multiple flood insurance claims or repeated flood losses, and businesses.
Haley’s comments came Monday during and after her speech to the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, which has watched the impact the changes have had on real estate sales along the Grand Strand.
Laura Crowther, the association’s CEO, said a south strand Realtor said the flood insurance on a home she was trying to sell would jump from $600 a year to more than $16,000 a year at the time of the sale. Many potential buyers might back out rather than pay the cost.
Crowther said she understands the need for owners of properties in flood zones to pay insurance premiums that reflect the risks of flood damage, but she’s not sure that the rates being quoted to homebuyers do that.
Crowther said she has heard that buyers can shop among insurers for the best rate. She said that the rates on each property are set by the federal flood insurance program and should be the same from all insurers.
Haley said she has contacted the state’s Congressional delegation for help in forwarding her plan for a phase-in of all rates.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.