Indiana looking at changing residential building codes as a way to lower flood insurance costs

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MERRILLVILLE, Indiana — Indiana officials are looking at whether changing residential building codes could help homeowners obtain lower rates for flood insurance.

State Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson tells The Times of Munster (http://bit.ly/1wKZGXn ) that officials have been in contact with the company used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to review requests to join the Community Rating System discount program.

Discounts on premiums are expected to become more important as the federal government begins to raise rates to better reflect the actual cost for providing insurance. Rates are expected to increase in April.

"The interest will grow proportionately with the increases in the flood insurance premiums," said Rodney Renkenberger, who serves on the board of directors of the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

Communities can make flood insurance more affordable through participation in the Community Rating System, which offers discounts to residents of communities taking certain measures.

The town of Merrillville in northwest Indiana, five miles south of Gary, obtained a ranking of 7 through the system, which means residents in that community can obtain a 15 percent discount on their premiums. Dyer and Lake County obtained rankings of 9, meaning residents can receive a 5 percent discount.

Matt Lake, executive director of the Merrillville Stormwater Utility, believes his community could get a ranking of 5 if the state makes the necessary changes in building codes. That would mean a 25 percent discount for Merrillville residents.

Erickson said the state is trying to get specific information on changes Indiana needs to make to qualify for the discounts. Erickson said new codes take considerable time and effort.

He said a model code is evaluated through a process involving the business community, design professionals, public safety community and the public. Then, Indiana amendments are drafted for approval by the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission. The process also includes an extensive fiscal analysis.


Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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