Flood insurance could catapault to ten times the cost - FOX 13 News

Flood insurance could catapault to ten times the cost

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St. Petersburg insurance agent and Treasure Island homeowner Anita Ford has the first hard look at the impact of new flood insurance rates.

Her home is roughly five feet below Treasure Island's base flood elevation, and she now pays about $2,600 for flood insurance. But if she sells her home?

"The anecdotal rate I got from my insurance company was roughly $24,000. The new owner would be subject to those rates."

New owner?

"That's the problem: our homes basically throughout this area just became unsaleable because people aren't going to pay that rate for flood insurance."

Congress required risk-based pricing in July 2012 when it extended the National Flood Insurance Program for five more years. The intent is to eliminate tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies incurred since NFIP was created in 1974.

The reality of that intent impacts homes built before 1974 and below base flood elevation.

"We're a community that was built in the '60s primarily," Treasure Island mayor Bob Minning said. "Most of our homes, older homes, are slab on grade, and grade is generally five, six feet above sea level. And base flood elevation is 11 and 12 feet. You can do the math."

Minning raised the issue Wednesday at a meeting of the Barrier Islands Government Council, which represents Pinellas County's 11 beach communities.

"I'm telling you, it's significant, the impact it could have on the barrier islands," Minning told his fellow mayors.

Most were at least somewhat aware of the issue.

"Ninety percent of the homes are in that base flood elevation, so they're all going to take a hit," said Bill Queen, mayor of North Redington Beach. "The ones who won't take a hit are the ones that are [elevated] and you can go through the town and count those, so it's going to be an impact."

Minning urged the mayors to contact members of the U.S. Congress about the rate hikes, and consider holding town hall meetings to inform residents. Treasure Island will have a town hall informational meeting in late August.

"It's interesting, it's been out there for a year," Minning said. "But the realization, and the awareness of our local people, nill."

He admitted the dearth of hard numbers is a factor: Insurance will not have the database to give quotes for a couple more weeks.

Ford was able to get her "anecdotal quote" because of her industry contacts.


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