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ST. LOUIS - Homeowners in some parts of our area are in for a big surprise. An insurance agent says the cost of FEMA flood insurance is skyrocketing by an average of 30 percent.

A viewer told NewsChannel 5 his friend's flood insurance bill jumped by $5,000 in one year; it turns out that's not uncommon.

All homeowners in a floodplain with a mortgage are required to have flood insurance. Claudia Schlueter of Rea Insurance Agency in Kirkwood says the amount of natural disasters the United States has suffered in the last few years are really what's driving up premiums across the board.

But last year, FEMA adjusted its floodplain maps. Along the way, some areas were reclassified into higher flood-risk categories. Homeowners living in those areas are now seeing even bigger increases in flood insurance premiums.

Then you have to take into account the fact the Government Accountability Office says the National Flood Insurance Program is $24 billion in debt.

"Part of the problem was the premium was not covering what it needed to for a long time," said Schlueter. "And everybody's gotten wise now that we need to increase these premiums to cover what the actual losses are when there is a loss."

A St. Charles County real estate agent tells NewsChannel 5 the growing premiums, especially in flood areas that were recently re-classified, are making it tough to buy, sell or refinance a home.

Buyers should ask in advance about yearly flood insurance premiums and can adjust the amount of coverage to help lower the cost.

Those looking to refinance can actually be grandfathered into their old flood area classification. An insurance agent can help guide you through that process.

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