Make us your home page
Instagram

Q&A: Rising flood insurance rates

Q&A | Rising flood insurance rates

Why are flood insurance rates rising?

To more accurately reflect the risk of flooding, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed last year calls for eliminating some artificially low rates and discounts.

Will everybody's rates go up sharply?

No. In fact, the biggest rate hikes focus on just 20 percent of flood policies, those covering older properties in low-lying areas (called a Special Flood Hazard Area, or SFHA) for which owners have been paying cheaper, subsidized rates. The affected properties date back to before Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) were adopted in the 1970s and 1980s and are known in government lingo as "pre-FIRM" properties.

Some property owners could face 25 percent annual increases for several years?

Yes.

• Owners of investment properties that have been subsidized with lower rates already started paying the higher rates on policy renewals after Jan. 1, 2013.

• A subsidized property that has experienced severe or repeated flooding will see the higher rates kick in Oct. 1.

• Owners of businesses and non-residential properties with subsidized rates will see the higher rates effective Oct. 1.

What if I live in my home and currently benefit from subsidized rates on my flood policy?

If you continue to live in your home and don't sell, you most likely will be able to keep the lower, subsidized rates.

However, you could face the higher rates if the property is sold, the policy lapses, you file severe or repeated flood losses, or a new policy is purchased.

How do I know if I get subsidized rates now?

Check with an insurance agent. But there are two main clues: Is the home in an "A" or "V" zone requiring flood insurance and is it at least a few decades old?

What if I have a subsidized policy in a flood hazard area and I sell my home or business property?

The buyer of a subsidized property will have to pay the full risk rate for any policy issued or renewed on or after Oct. 1. That could more than triple the rates immediately. If you bought a subsidized property after the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act became law a year ago, you could have to pay the full risk rate for a policy renewal starting in October.

Is there any other trigger for a large rate increase?

Owners of older homes in low lying areas could face rate increases of up to 20 percent a year for five years if a community adopts a new flood insurance rate map as part of the program overhaul laid out in the Biggert-Waters act.

Can I do anything to fight higher rates?

Check into obtaining an elevation certificate to show your particular property is sufficiently elevated. There is an initial cost, but it may help reduce your rate. Review your flood zone maps to see your property's current flood risk and how close it is to a potential change in risk status if a new map is adopted.

And don't let your policy lapse, which could be a trigger for a big rate increase.

Where can I find more details?

Go to floodsmart.gov. Or contact your insurance agent.

Jeff Harrington, Times staff writer

Q&A: Rising flood insurance rates 06/15/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 15, 2013 7:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul

    Markets

    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages

    Business

    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.