Flood Insurance No Longer Affordable in Florida

Biggert Waters Act – A Draconian Mess for Florida

This is what is starting to happen in Florida as a result of the Biggert Waters Act of 2012 in which congress in thier wisdom decided that Pinellas County should pay for hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy.  Not the rest of the country, just Pinellas County. This act of congress is having a draconian effect on Florida and in particular Pinellas County. Legislation should not have a disproportinate effect on states or localities. Are the premiums in Louisana and New Jersey rising to $44,000.00? 

Check out this article from the Tampa Bay Times, December 10, 2013.

By Anna M. Phillips – Tampa Bay Times

When Aaron and Jonie Greenwood, a couple from Illinois, bought a house in Seminole overlooking Boca Ciega Bay last July, they decorated it like a vacation getaway. In the hallway, they hung a sign: 'Life is great at the beach.' It was their aspirational home – a two-story house in tropical suburbia, in the right school district, with a pool and a porch. But the ultimate selling point was its location on a canal that emptied into the bay, the fulfillment of a longtime wish to live on the water.

Then came the call from the woman who had sold them the house on 74th Avenue N in the Old Oakhurst neighborhood. Something about flood insurance rates changing as a result of a 2012 law. She encouraged them to go to a meeting to learn more.

Six weeks ago, they got the new numbers: The Greenwoods' $4,300 annual flood insurance premium is scheduled to increase in July 2014 by about 900 percent to nearly $44,000, the highest documented flood insurance premium in Pinellas County.

'How could that even be possible?' Aaron Greenwood, 43, asked.

The explanation lies in the Biggert-Waters act, which Congress passed to stabilize the debt-plagued flood insurance program by raising rates.

The Greenwoods, who both working the information technology industry, bought the 4,300-square-foot house for $628,000, pushing the limit of what they could afford. A $44,000 flood insurance premium was not part of their calculations.

Now, a question lingers: Should someone have warned them?

They'd bought their policy through Florida Best Quote, a Belleair Bluffs agency, where no one had mentioned an increase. Their agent, John Lawrenson, said he and other agents didn't get the new rates until late August, a few weeks before they went into effect. But at least one other insurance agency said its staff had the rate tables by late July, when the Greenwoods closed on their house.

Even if the couple were able to afford an annual premium of $44,000, at most the flood insurance program will cover $250,000 of a home's value.

'Is FEMA suggesting that his house is going to be completely destroyed every 5 ½ years?' asked Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov. 'I can't vouch for their science.' Greenwood said his best hope is that a private insurance company such as Lloyd's of London, which already offers policies in Pinellas, will take them on. According to several insurance agents, if the Greenwoods take this route, their premium would still more than double, to about $9,100, which the couple say they can pay, though not happily.

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