With rising flood insurance, many Pinellas businesses will be su - FOX 13 News

With rising flood insurance rates, many Pinellas businesses will be sunk

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ST. PETE BEACH (FOX 13) -

The same sky-high flood insurance premiums now sweeping over single-family homes will also swamp commercial properties.

The manager of Treasure Bay Hotel and Marina on Treasure Island sees trouble coming.

"It's been shared with me I can anticipate in 2014 anywhere from 12 to $15,000 increase a year," Phyllis McMillan told FOX 13 News. "It's a huge increase. I have to sell a lot of hotel rooms to net that kind of money."

As an existing policy holder, her new reality will be phased in. Eventually.

"There's another issue:

"I don't know what the full risk-rate is, so I don't know when it stops," she said.

On St. Pete Beach's Corey Avenue, merchant Tom Rogers is somewhat lucky: his landlord owns the building Rogers' store occupies, so with no mortgage, so flood insurance is not required.

However, he told FOX 13 News other merchants face higher rents and are concerned.

"From a commercial standpoint, then you have to step back and say well, how many more widgets do I have to sell, how many more dogs do I have to groom, how many more haircuts do I to have to give in order to cover that new number?" Rogers explained.

The flood insurance crisis did clip him at home: he had a buyer for his home of Tierra Verde, but the deal fell through when the new owner found out flood insurance would cost more than $11,000 a year. The same challenge now confronts residential and commercial real estate.

"If you own a building as a commercial property and you want to sell it, you know you have that issue to deal with, with whoever's going to buy it," Rogers said.

Treasure Island's mayor has been on the forefront of deciphering what Congress wrought when it mandated risk-based pricing for flood insurance. He now fears time has run out for Congressional relief of any sort.

"And to complicate it, if they do try to do something, the genie is out of the bottle," Minning said. "Some people have already been assessed, been paying. Do you give them the money back?"

Some small businesses may not survive.

"Let's say you're a business that makes $50,000 a year, and all of a sudden you have to pay $25,000 more. That's right off your bottom line," Minning explained. "Then you got to make the decision, is being in business worth it?"

Before the summer recess, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would have delayed the new flood insurance rates for existing homeowners with previously-subsidized pricing. The U.S. Senate rejected that relief, and no one is talking about the other impacts: commercial properties, second homes, properties with repetitive losses and new owners of homes that formerly enjoyed subsidized pricing.

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