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Flood insurance: Better rating reduces premium by 10%

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Residents in most areas of Georgetown County who pay for flood insurance now qualify for a 10 percent discount on their premiums.

The county received a Class 8 rating through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System. That means the county has gone beyond the minimum standards for floodplain management.

As the county makes further improvements, additional discounts will follow.

But the savings aren’t automatic.

“You have to ask for it,” County Administrator Sel Hemingway said. “We need to spread the word and make sure citizens subject to flood insurance are going in and talking to their [insurance] agents and getting what they’re entitled to.”

When the county qualified for the rating in May, officials believed the improvement would be forwarded to insurance agents and factored in when premiums were calculated.

They only recently discovered that wasn’t the case when a Garden City homeowner was mistakenly listed as a resident of Horry County, Hemingway said. When the man had his insurance agent switch him to Georgetown County, his insurance costs went up and he started trying to find out what caused the difference in the rates, getting county officials involved.

Georgetown County applied for a higher rating after learning about the rating system and its benefits for property owners about a year ago.

The Town of Pawleys Island was already participating in the program.

“They did a lot of the groundwork and made it possible for us to efficiently coattail their efforts,” Hemingway said.

The town has a Class 6 rating, so property owners qualify for a 20 percent discount on flood insurance premiums.

The county is preparing to undergo another review through the program and receive an updated rating.

“We’re shooting for maybe a 6,” Hemingway said. “There are a lot of administrative type things we can do to get a lower rating.”

Communities get points toward a lower rating for activities that help protect lives and reduce property damage. The maximum discount available is 45 percent. That comes with a Class 1 rating.

Communities must accumulate at least 4,500 points to be ranked Class 1. The county has 1,066 points.

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