George D. Shaeffer, a disabled retiree, does not live on waterfront property, but he has seen the flood insurance rates on his 900-square-foot house in Redington Beach, a barrier island in Pinellas County, climb from $2,171 to $15,946 a year.
He'll have a hard time selling his house because the new potential buyer would have to pay the full $16,000 premium at the closing.
In Ft. Myers Beach, Jacquelyn Liszak-May owns the Sea Gypsy Inn, a small inn and gift shop. Her total premiums for the two buildings used to be $2,722 and jumped to $46,907--a combined 1,700 percent increase to stay insured.
Those two examples are included in an amicus brief filed November 12 by Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, supporting Mississippi's lawsuit against the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program rate hike. (Mississippi Insurance Department vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Case No. 1:13-cv-379-LG-JMR in the Southern District of Mississippi.)
"We are supporting Mississippi in their lawsuit against FEMA because the NFIP rate hike will not only hurt Florida families but will devastate our real estate market. President Obama should use every tool possible to help Florida families and we urge him to act immediately," Gov. Scott said.
Bondi added: "Floridians are facing outrageous, unaffordable flood insurance premiums, and we support all efforts to protect policyholders from these devastating insurance rates."
Meanwhile, lawyers who practice in the insurance and real estate areas are scurrying to keep up with changes in flood insurance when Congress passed the Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, with a key provision--Section 205--fully implemented on October 1 of this year.
The Florida Bar's Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section enlisted expert advice from Christopher Heidrick, of Heidrick & Co. Insurance and Risk Management Services on Sanibel Island.
Scheduled to speak at the RPPTL's Executive Council meeting on November 22 in Sarasota, after this News went to press, Heidrick shared with the News highlights of his presentation that he also gave to the Collier County Bar Association on November 15.
"The headline message for professionals providing guidance to others is that BW-12 [Biggert-Waters Act 2012] is the law. It hasn't been delayed. It hasn't been repealed. There's a lot of activity around it, but we need to provide guidance to our clients...