Senator proposes state fix for rising flood insurance rates

Flood insurance rates have been skyrocketing around the country.

Now, one state senator from our area wants the state to get involved in trying to hold rates down.

State Senator Luke Rankin (R-Horry County) wants the state to look into creating a flood insurance pool, much like the state wind pool.

Some property owners in high risk areas think it might be a good idea.

Rhett Sanders' property on Pitch Landing Road next to the Waccamaw River flooded last summer.

"It got up into the yard and under the house," Sanders said.

Sanders hasn't seen his flood insurance rates go up yet, but if they do, he'd like to see the state step in.

"I would love for our state to do something about it, I would like to see more of this sort of thing brought under state control and state supervision," Sanders said.

For decades, flood insurance has been federally subsidized.

After losses from huge storms, Congress in 2012 passed the Biggert-Waters Act, to make flood insurance pay for more losses without subsidies.

But that caused huge rate increases for homes that are not grandfathered in.

To soften the blow, Rankin wants South Carolina to consider forming a state-sponsored flood pool.

That's an insurance market of last resort for people in high risk areas.

State Insurance Department Director Raymond Farmer says it's worthy of study, but no state has ever tried it before.

"It will be something brand new, it will be extremely complex, so it will require an awful lot of study," said Farmer.

Farmer says the flood insurance program is $24 billion in debt.

He says there's general agreement it's good to make the program more financially sound, but Congress tried to make big changes quickly and it really hurt some homeowners.

"They're basically doing it to a 40 year (old) program overnight, and that's where the heartburn has come in."

Farmer says it's good that he's seeing more private insurers are getting into the flood insurance market.

And last month, Congress passed a new bill to limit some of the huge rate hikes.