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Sour Orange Award: Flood insurance rates spike | Dec. 15

Our economy will take big hit

As the president of a local title insurance agency, I can tell you that the fallout from the skyrocketing flood insurance rates is coming home to roost and is a huge problem for our local economy. It affects thousands of homeowners who don't live "on the water," but who do live in an area that might or might not flood at some time during their lifetime (or may have never flooded, but has been included on a FEMA map as being in a flood zone).

Since Oct. 1, thousands of Floridians have discovered that their flood insurance premiums are going so high that no one will buy their home. The real estate market in their neighborhoods is tanking, resulting in the loss of ancillary jobs. Realty companies, title companies, home-improvement companies, mortgage brokers, surveyors and home inspectors are all seeing the effects of this every day.

People who have a mortgage on their home are required to have flood insurance. Those policy premiums are scheduled to rise by $2,000 to $10,000 per year. And when the homeowner can't pay, and the house is foreclosed on, who will buy it with that crazy insurance premium?

And why did this happen? Because Congress has decided that this is where they are going to balance the budget (on the backs of people living in an area that might flood, but hasn't in decades) and they are all upset because the National Flood Insurance Program is in debt by $24 billion?

If we can spend $92 billion rebuilding schools and other infrastructure in Afghanistan, then why can't we continue to subsidize insurance rates for taxpaying Americans who have never had a flood, probably won't ever have one, and simply have to have this insurance for their mortgage loan? It's a matter of priorities, and Congress simply doesn't have them straight. Not by a long shot. Fix this mess or there will be pockets of empty houses all over our region.

And creating a state-run program will not solve this problem, either. The last thing we need are more undercapitalized companies that will not be able to respond if there is a flood.

Gary Gibbons, Tampa

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Readers comment on business news 12/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 3:36pm]
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