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The Berkshires

Increase on insurance rates hits Schoharie County extra hard

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Albany/HV: Increase on insurance rates hits Schoharie County extra hard
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A year-and-a-half after Tropical Storm Irene washed out much of Schoharie County, people there are still paying to rebuild. But as YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, now they'll be faced with another cost. The Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 takes effect this year, increasing flood insurance nationwide and especially in high risk areas.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. -- “It's just more burden, more financial burden,” said property owner Leslie Price.

The bills haven't stopped coming for the people whose homes and businesses were affected by Tropical Storm Irene.

Price said, “I've spent a lot of money and I continue to spend a lot of money and business in the village is down in general with only so many homes moved back in.”

And now another cost. President Obama signed the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 into law last summer, meaning flood insurance costs could increase up to 25 percent for property owners nationwide.

“The rates are all set by FEMA, so unlike car insurance, there’s no shopping the rate and going to other carriers. It's all one set rate by FEMA, by the government,” said Todd Stewart of Hopmeier Evans Gage Insurance.

Matthew Avitabile, the Mayor of Middleburgh, said, “You're talking about another burden that people just can't afford. You can't ask people that we're just thrown out of their houses for all this extra money.”

According to flood maps, many of those people that were thrown out of their homes by Irene, live in high risk areas, meaning they'll feel the increase even more.

“It certainly makes it more difficult to deal with recovery,” said property owner James Bryant.

James Bryant is still working to get back into his Main Street office, which, along with his home, was flooded. He says any extra costs will make many people think twice about insurance.

Bryant said, “At some point, people are just going to take the risk and hope it really was a 500 year flood and not a ten year flood.”

“I'll continue to be covered, as much as maybe I won't like the increase, you have to do it. You have to keep safe,” said Price.

Insurance agents say people can expect to see the increase on their yearly renewal.

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