; ; ; ; ; ; ;

What you should know about floods and then some.
Search Flood Ed:


State wants more insurers to write flood policies
Oct 09, 2013

TALLAHASSEE – State officials are trying to bring more private insurance companies into the state with the hopes that they would write flood insurance, freeing Floridians from steep rate increases that recently took effect in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Rebecca Matthews, deputy chief of staff for the Office of Insurance Regulation, said there are a few companies that write flood insurance policies in Florida and the office is looking to persuade other companies to do so as well.

The reason: the federal government's flood insurance provider is phasing out subsidized rates on 268,000 high-risk Florida property owners, most located in coastal or flood-prone inland areas. As a result, rates for these properties have tripled or more.

Gov. Rick Scott and Realtors have said the increases will cripple Florida's housing market by making these properties unaffordable. And lawmakers said their offices have been bombarded with calls from constituents worried about how to pay their premiums.

At a meeting of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Tuesday, many members asked whether Florida could start its own flood insurance program and potentially offer lower rates.

"I don't think it's entirely unfeasible," Matthews said.

But there are many obstacles in the way.

Though it's relatively easy to start an insurance company in Florida, not many will be eager to write policies for properties the federal program has deemed risky.

"I wouldn't want to hold out false hope to some of your constituents," said Locke Burt, an insurance executive and former lawmaker, told the committee Tuesday.

There also may be some regulatory issues that concern larger companies, Matthews said, though she wasn't specific.

Committee chairman David Simmons asked Matthews to advise in coming weeks what the Legislature could do to make the state more attractive for companies writing flood insurance.