Property owners could soon save money on flood insurance

San Antonio homeowners will be eligible for a discount on their flood insurance this fall.

The city has demonstrated that it has a reduced flood risk because its flood management efforts exceed the minimum requirements set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This announcement from FEMA is recognition that the city is moving in the right direction when it comes to protecting our residents and their property from the life safety risks of flooding,” said District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, who often advocates for drainage needs.

The discount amounts to 20 percent for homeowners living in the floodplain and 10 percent for those outside of it as of Oct. 1. San Antonio joins more than 1,500 participating communities across the country.

The average flood insurance policy costs about $700 a year, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. But homeowners who live outside of a high-risk flood zone can usually purchase a federal flood policy for less than $500 a year.

San Antonio will join the program’s sixth grade. Class one property owners receive the highest discounts, up to a 45 percent discount for residents who live in a floodplain.

Floodplain home and business owners are required to purchase flood insurance from mortgage lenders under the National Flood Insurance Act.

Homeowners can see if their home or neighborhood is in a floodplain by checking the San Antonio River Authority’s digital floodplain map.

The goals of the program include reducing flood damage to insurable property and promoting comprehensive floodplain management.

More than 70 other Texas communities are participating or will join the federal stimulus program this fall. Residents of nearby Leon Valley, Live Oak, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin and Guadalupe County can also take advantage of the discounts.

San Antonio’s need for drainage can seem staggering — officials estimate $3.1 billion in projects are needed. The new bond program approved by voters in 2022 is one way the city is addressing that need.

In the vote, the drainage and flood control proposal received more support than any other part of the bond program. It won 71.9 percent approval to spend $169.9 million on 23 projects.

This is still only a small fraction of the resources needed by the city for drainage, which are usually expensive projects to implement.

Sandoval, who has become involved in environmental health concerns such as flooding, worked with West Side Councilman Terry Castillo this year to propose a commission to create a flood control master plan for San Antonio.

The hope is that the citizen advisory committee will allow residents to have more of a say in how the city determines which drainage projects to fund and when.

Floodplain management is often complex and crosses political boundaries. The opportunity for residents to address it should be permanent, not limited to a once-every-five-year citizen bond committee process, advocates say.

A smaller group of City Council members agreed in late May to send Sandoval and Castillo’s proposal to another council committee to discuss the details.

City officials had proposed sending the measure straight to a full City Council vote to create a flood control task force, but some weren’t ready to do so, saying they had to figure out how to get real estate experts involved. without creating a conflict of interest.

The new FEMA rebate program is a recognition of the work the city has already done, Sandoval said in a statement.

“While there is still much work to be done, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction,” Sandoval said. “It’s also a tangible way for our city to save homeowners money on maintaining their homes.”

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