PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla .– A new FEMA flood insurance rate map will take effect August 24. Pinellas County officials want residents to know their insurance rates could change, which could impact how much homeowners pay for their premium.
Jayne Dunn has lived in her Oldsmar home for 21 years and says she has never had a problem with flooding.
“I never had anything to do with a flood, I never made a claim on my risk insurance,” she explained.
That’s why a letter she received in the mail last week took her by surprise. The letter explained that her flood zone was changing from X to AE and that she would need flood insurance since she has a mortgage on her house.
So she called the town of Oldsmar to confirm that her house would be affected, and then started calling insurance agents.
âIt was very frustrating. I couldn’t think about it. I had to work and try to do this on my breaks,â explained Dunn.
Dunn is one of hundreds of Pinellas County home and business owners who will soon be forced to shell out more money for flood insurance.
FEMA has not changed the FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) for 12 years, but now some people currently in non-flood areas may be required by their mortgage companies to add insurance against flooding. Others who are currently in high risk flood areas may move to a lower risk area.
Lisa Foster, Pinellas County Flood Plain Administrator, hopes to get the word out about the changes, especially since new insurance policies typically have a 30-day waiting period.
âWe encourage everyone to research what this change is and talk to their insurance agent about the impact it will have on their insurance rates,â Foster explained.
Jake Trimble of Brightway Insurance is already answering some of these calls. He says the change could cost homeowners an additional $ 1,000 to $ 3,000 per year, on average, but many factors can play a role in that rate. Trimble says that if you act quickly, you can lock in a rate before your flood zone changes.
âYou want to deal with it now to make sure you can lock in to a grandfathered rate,â Trimble said.
Insurance agents say you have two other options to save money: increase your deductible or reduce coverage for contents inside your home.
âWhen you think of a flood, you want to make sure that you cover the fruit within easy reach of the house: the sofa, the furniture, things like that. You don’t want to make sure things are 10 feet in the air because that’s unlikely to hit them, âTrimble added.
Dunn was able to lock in a lower rate by getting cover before the new cards go into effect, but she is worried if her neighbors don’t do the same, they will be stuck with a surprise, potentially triple-digit increase the next. once their insurance policy is renewed.
“It’s a lot of money to spend on flood insurance when we haven’t even had a flood problem. I’m afraid my neighbors may not be able to get a decent flood premium or they will end up. by selling their homes, and it’s just going to be devastating for our neighborhood, âDunn added.
You can consult the new map on this link: bit.ly/PinellasPendingMaps. Be sure to enter your address at the top left of the screen to see if at all your flood rate and flood elevation will change.
If the flood zone or BFE of a property changes, the flood insurance rate and the requirement to purchase a flood policy may also change. By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on buildings located in areas at high risk of flooding. Standard homeowners’, business owners’ and renters’ insurance policies generally do not cover flood damage; therefore, flood insurance for financial protection is an important consideration for anyone exposed to flood risks. Pinellas County leaders also point out that flood-prone areas and evacuation areas are not the same things. One is used to determine your insurance rate and the risk of flooding. The other is used to determine when you need to evacuate during a hurricane or tropical storm.
FEMA will also release a Risk Assessment 2.0 plan next October, which will assess homes based on their individual flood risk rather than grouping the entire surrounding area together. Unfortunately, this update can also result in significant bounty increases.
Below are the must-see definitions provided by Pinellas County:
- Flood prone areas are areas mapped by FEMA for use in the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Each floodplain designation, represented by a letter or letters, tells homeowners what the risk of flooding their property is over a period of years, regardless of the cause.
- High risk areas, called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are shown on the map as areas labeled with the letters A or V.
- By law, all homes in high-risk areas with a mortgage must be covered by flood insurance.
- Moderate to low risk areas are labeled with the letters B, C or X. Areas labeled with the letter D are undetermined risk areas.
- Evacuation zones are based on the hurricane storm surge zones determined by the National Hurricane Center using ground elevation and the region’s vulnerability to storm surges from a hurricane.
- Evacuation zones are delimited from A to E, plus no evacuation zones.
- Storm surge flooding occurs when an abnormal surge of water generated by a storm is pushed towards the shore by strong winds.
- If you are sensitive to storm surges, flood insurance is recommended, even if you are not located in a FEMA flood zone.