By now many of you are aware that the Biggert-Waters Act, also known as the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, could take effect for some property owners this month. The intent of this federal level act is to eliminate government subsidy of properties at risk of flooding by increasing flood insurance rates to reflect the real risk cost. The problem with this is that affected property owners will be seeing dramatic, and potentially unmanageable, increases to their flood insurance premiums in the very near future.
I have already spoken with residents whose annual flood insurance premiums could become greater than their annual mortgage payments. In Gulfport, 16% of property owners are likely to be impacted to varying degrees. Other coastal communities, such as South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach, have much larger property percentages that will be subject to these changes.
While it is smart planning to get insurance premiums in line with the actual risk of potential flood damage costs, the brief time period for rate increases currently proposed in the act have the potential to displace people from their homes and businesses. This policy, if not amended, could effectively be an eviction notice for some of us.
This is unacceptable.
The City of Gulfport, and many other governments throughout the state and nation, opposes the act in its current form. I feel that the federal government has an obligation to amend this policy, and to decelerate the pace of insurance rate reform so that the impact to carriers can be mitigated over time. As this is a federal policy decision, local and state government cannot change this legislation without your help.
Please contact your U.S. representatives in the senate and congress and tell them how you feel about this act. Add your voice to the chorus, and join other Floridians in suggesting a more reasonable path. Also, contact your insurance agency to find out exactly how you will be affected, and what they are doing to help keep premiums manageable for their customers.
For more information, visit www.mygulfport.us, and scroll down to the link for flood and hurricane information. Join us on Thursday November 7 at 6 p.m. at the Gulfport Casino for a forum concerning these pending policy changes.