CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Richard Holmes purchased his St. Albans home two months ago, he didn't expect his monthly payments to double.
Now, because of increasing flood insurance premiums under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, Holmes said he and his family might lose their Riverbend subdivision home before they get the chance to enjoy it.
Homeowners nationwide are experiencing similar problems.
The act, which was attached to the federal transportation bill, was meant to shore up the National Flood Insurance Program because of multiple claims from Hurricane Katrina.
The increase is supposed to reflect the full risk for covering properties. Currently, many flood insurance policies are subsidized, particularly residential policies. In West Virginia, 60 percent of policies are subsidized.
Most people can keep their primary residence's subsidized rate unless they sell their property, let the policy lapse, buy a new policy or their property sustains flood damage.
Starting Jan. 1, people who own a second home in a Special Flood Hazard Area also will see increases amounting to 25 percent annually until the rate reflects true risks.
Beginning this month, properties with subsidized rates that have experienced severe or repeated flooding and owners of businesses or non-residential properties in a Special Flood Hazard Zone will see a 25 percent annual increase until rates reflect true risk.
Chuck Grishaber, Kanawha County's floodplain manager, said he has received many calls from residents like Holmes. He said although the act went into effect last year, problems have started up more recently.
Holmes, who works as a coal miner in Danville, said he knew his home was in a flood zone when he bought it. However, he said he was told at closing the cost of flood insurance would be $1,470 a year.
That number later went up to $12,000 a year.
Holmes bought the house for $160,000 and his monthly payment doubled.
"I can't afford that. I'm going to have to foreclose," Holmes said. "It's going to ruin my credit; so I probably won't be able to buy another home. And renting, they check your credit. So, I don't know what's going to happen there."
He isn't alone.
Just in his neighborhood, several residents expressed concerns over the increasing costs, though none had experienced an increase quite as dramatic as his.
One of his neighbors said his insurance increased from $1,400 to $1,900 a year and one of the solutions to reduce premiums would be to reduce the house's value and space by filling in the basement. However, the premium would still be high, the neighbor said.
Mary Anne Wilder, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 40 years, said although she isn't in the same position as her neighbors across the street, she is concerned about the current rates and what that might mean if she ever tried to sell the house.