Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown sent a letter to Senator Jeff Brandes this week, thanking him for addressing a flood insurance crisis through a bill he’s attempting to pass in the Legislature that streamlines flood insurance costs and offers policies at more affordable rates.
The Jan. 6 letter states that the town’s approximately 7,000 permanent residents and many more part-time residents will be “adversely affected by significant increases in flood insurance rates required.”
“As municipalities work to create communities that are a great place to live, work and play, the long-term consequences of these dramatic rate increases will only serve to create a climate within cities that will stagnate,” Brown wrote. “Or even worse, reverse local economic initiatives by placing a financial burden upon homeowners and businesses that they simply can’t afford.”
Brown explains both the town and the Florida League of Cities supports state legislation “that removes impediments and creates appropriate market conditions form more private sector insurers to compete in the flood insurance market so as to provide coverage for Florida residents based solely on Florida’s experience.”
Longboat Key commissioners worry that rising flood and wind insurance costs will force people to sell their homes and move to the mainland.
They have reason for concern after Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, lobbied unsuccessfully before the holidays to encourage Congress to approve a glitch bill to stave off insurance costs that have more than tripled for some policyholders.
The Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) went through an overhaul after Superstorm Sandy caused major destruction in the Northeast last winter, both to the area and the NFIP, which is responsible for paying out claims.
That overhaul and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 are now creating problems for property owners by jeopardizing some individuals’ ability to stay in their homes.
FEMA began to reduce areas it covers and went through a series of evaluations for certain coastal areas, including Longboat Key, which led the program to raise rates 25% for second homes and commercial properties.
But policyholders have reported that their rates are rising astronomically, whether they are full-time residents or not.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].