Effective April 1, 2015, changes will begin to occur in the National Flood Insurance Program that was approved by Congress in the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. The Act repeals or modifies certain provisions of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and makes additional program changes for new and current policy holders. These changes may affect your flood insurance premium rates. The new law lowers the recent rate increases on some policies, prevents some future rate increases, and implements a surcharge on all policyholders. The Act also repeals certain rate increases that have already gone into effect and provides for refunds to those policyholders.
While FEMA continues to work on implementing the new law, they encourage policyholders to maintain and keep current flood insurance policies. FEMA does not recommend cancelling a flood insurance policy. Cancelling flood insurance policies may cause policyholders to lose important discounts on their rate if they reinstate in the future.
The changes will have the greatest impact on properties located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that were built prior to the adoption of Broward County’s first FIRM on October 26, 1972. If you have had a flood insurance policy in place prior to that FIRM date, you may have been receiving subsidized lower rates.
FEMA offers additional information to property owners about the Act. More...
Highlights of the Federal Law Changes
- Gradually phases out the premium subsides.
- No more time-of-sale increases; increases will occur when flood insurance is renewed.
- Home buyers will no longer see 100% of the increase at closing; now it’s spread out over several years.
- Limits premium increases to 18% annually for newer properties and 25% for older ones.
- A new surcharge will be added to all policies. A policy for a primary residence will include a $25 surcharge. All other policies will include a $250 surcharge. The fee will be included on all policies, including full-risk rated policies, until all Pre-FIRM subsidies are eliminated.
- Restores grandfathering so property owners who build and maintain a home according to the flood insurance program requirements aren’t rated in higher cost zones, simply because FEMA maps change.
- Repeals the ability to raise premium rates at the time of property sale or new flood map.
- Home buyers can assume the seller’s current insurance premium rate, so the rate is transferrable with the property, not the seller.
- Properties newly mapped into the flood zone are offered the same premium rate as properties located outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (preferred risk policy rates) for the first policy year.
- Mandates refunds for certain flood insurance policies who may have experienced steep flood insurance premium increases in 2013 and early 2014.
What Can I Do to Lower Costs?
- Talk to your insurance agent about your insurance options
- You may need to purchase an Elevation Certificate to determine your correct rate.
- Higher deductibles might lower your premium costs.
- Consider remodeling or rebuilding
- Building or rebuilding higher may lower your risk and reduce premiums.
- Consider adding vents to your foundation or using breakaway walls.