Flood insurance fix headed to president's desk

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Posted: Friday, March 14, 2014 2:39 pm

"It's my biggest nightmare."

That’s Englewood resident Laure Lewis just a few months ago talking about her flood insurance premium going from around $1,000 a year to nearly $7,000.

And how about today?

"I can breathe right now," she says.

That’s because Laure and up to 30,000 of her Sarasota and Manatee neighbors are finally getting some relief.

"The way the political world works right now it could change in six months,” Lewis says. “All I know is I am supposed to be grandfathered in, as well as everyone else."

The bill scales back the huge premiums. It also allows the lower rates to be passed on to those buying homes in flood zones with taxpayer subsidized policies. The initial increases were put in place to help FEMA make up for a $24 billion dollar deficit.

"It's a step in the right direction," according to Deb Bean-Guinto of Anytime Realty, who also says they've lost sales because of the mess.

"Even if it is just people thinking about what the insurance is going to be is an unknown,” she says. “They don't know so they are hesitating and putting off buying property."

There are some catches, however. Second homes and areas which see repeated flooding will still see the higher rates. Surcharges of $250 for those homes and businesses will be put in place. Oh, and the new legislation also allows for an 18 percent increase on primary residents each year.

"People come to Florida. This is a retirement area. They are on a fixed income. They might have savings but they can't afford for that to keep going up and up and up," says Bean-Guinto.

Though the fix has made Laure happy today, it could still mean that within a few years her rates will go right back up.

"It puts me right back in the same situation, because I can't pay for my home and I can't sell my home," she says.

The compromise bill still needs the signature of the president, who is expected to sign the legislation into law.

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