Effective immediately, all Merrillville property owners that have mandatory flood insurance should see their premiums drop by 15%. Owners of parcels that have insurable structures located in a 100-year flood zone (delineated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA) are required to obtain flood insurance by their lenders. These areas are shown on the latest FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).
Residents will see a reduction in their flood insurance premiums through efforts of Merrillville Stormwater Utility Executive Director Matt Lake, who has been working with the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program. After applying for the program and coordination with Christina Groves from FEMA, Merrillville is one of about 20 communities in Indiana who are ranked within the program. Merrillville received the best ranking in Indiana, a Class 7, in order to qualify for reduced rates in flood insurance, with only Hamilton County also receiving a Class 7 ranking. The Town of Merrillville was the first to apply in Northwest Indiana.
Mr. Lake began the process after the town learned in 2012 that numerous parcels throughout Merrillville that had been designated in a floodplain under the updated January 12th, 2014 FEMA FIRM maps, which required many of those homeowners to purchase flood insurance -- some for the first time. To assist those property owners, Merrillville applied to participate in the CRS program, which assesses and rates floodplain management plans. Mr. Lake said the application process takes 12 to 18 months. The town is required to provide reports annually to FEMA about its floodplain management program so residents can continue to receive the discount.
The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of CRS: (1) Reduce flood damage to insurable property; (2) strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP; and (3) encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.
Merrillville has also finalized its updated Stormwater Master Plan, and preliminary data from this plan have been forwarded to FEMA as a part of demonstrating the highest level of floodplain management.
Residents and commercial businesses that have flood insurance for their properties don’t need to do anything to apply for the reduction in premium. If residents or businesses have a question about their premiums, they should contact their insurance agent directly.
For further information, call the NFIP's toll-free information line at (800) 427-4661. Flood insurance information is also available at the U.S. Government’s FloodSmart website at www.floodsmart.gov or on FEMA’s website.