Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Flood insurance reforms must put consumers first

A St. Petersburg legislator is smart to begin laying the groundwork for a homegrown flood insurance solution. But the Legislature's challenge, should it embrace Sen. Jeff Brandes' plan, will be to craft a solution that serves consumers and not just the insurers' bottom line. With property insurance coverage, the devil is always in the details.

Brandes on Tuesday filed a bill to create a regulatory framework to encourage private insurers to write flood policies in Florida. The Republican wants a private market that's more flexible than the National Flood Insurance Program, which requires owners to take policies for the home's replacement value up to a hard cap of $250,000. Brandes wants private insurers to be able to offer just partial coverage, such as to cover a home's remaining mortgage, to keep costs low.

That is attractive given that such policies may help homeowners avoid losing their homes because they can't afford full flood coverage under new higher rates in the national program. Less clear is how such policies would be regulated or priced; whether insurers will be able to cherry-pick policies; or whether banks would agree to less-than-replacement-value coverage. Brandes is betting that private insurance solutions would be cheaper than the astronomical rate increases some new buyers of older homes are seeing under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act.

The federal law, which took effect Oct. 1, is phasing out subsidies for older homes over the next five years, and immediately when the home is sold — which is causing shock waves in some of Tampa Bay's older neighborhoods. Next year, the same subsidy elimination plan is scheduled for properties whose owners have subsidized rates because new maps drew them into a higher-risk flood zone.

Already, private insurers in Florida who have received permission to add flood coverage to their existing homeowners' policies quote base prices that seem more reasonable. But that can mean little to a specific homeowner whose house sits below the so-called Base Flood Elevation — which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency's estimate of the flood height of a once-a-century storm.

The best solution remains for Congress to hit the pause button on Biggert-Waters and go back to the drawing board. Florida threatening to go its own way may encourage that. Florida policyholders have been a major donor to the national insurance program, contributing $4 in premiums for every $1 in claims. But state lawmakers shouldn't wait. Brandes' plan, along with others expected to emerge, will need a thorough vetting during the spring legislative session. Tallahassee will need to ensure it's not cleaning up Washington's mess by creating another one.

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Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

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Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

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Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

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Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

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Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

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Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

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Published: 05/22/18
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Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

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Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18