Florida Flood Insurance Incentives

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- If you are one of the 200,000 Florida homeowners who must carry flood insurance and you’re unhappy with the National Flood Insurance rates, cheaper options may be on the way.

The State Senate Wednesday unanimously passed legislation offering incentives to get private insurance to write more flood coverage.

Flood Insurance premiums skyrocketed this past year. Congress stepped in and slowed the increase, but rates under the National program aren’t going to be going down.

Now the state legislature is offering incentives to bring more private insurers into the market. Florida sends four dollars in premiums to the national program for every one dollar paid in claims. Sponsor Jeff Brandes says there is profit to be made and still offer lower rates.

"I think over time you're going to see, five, ten years from now, a majority of flood insurance in the state of Florida will be private," Brandes said.

The legislation removes barriers for companies who want to write policies. But it's still not a done deal.

"Still to be worked out, how much insurance you'll actually have to buy," Brandes said.

The Senate wants companies to write policies that cover only what you owe the bank. The House is so far insisting you cover the full value of the property. Bankers, who get their money either way, are staying out of the fight.

"That's a policy decision they're going to have to make," Anthony DeMarco, representative of the Florida Bankers Association said.

But Michael Carlson of Personal Insurance Federation tells us cautious insurers worry about what happens when you lose everything.

"If there's a flood, you're gonna lose your house," Carlson said. "If you lose your house and are unable because of the low coverage limit, to rebuild it, you may abandon that home, that may create blight."

The legislation bypasses regulatory pre approval of rates. That means companies can begin offering policies the day the bill becomes law.

The national flood insurance program limits policies to $250,000 and $100,000 of contents.

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