In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (BW-12), which requires the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to raise rates to reflect true flood risk. These changes will only effect subsidized flood insurance policies; however, keep in mind most flood insurance policies do see minimal increases annually as the cost of living increases.
Homeowners of primary residences in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)* will be able to keep their subsidized rates unless or until they: (1) Sell their property, (2) allow the current flood insurance policy to lapse, (3) suffer severe, repeated, flood loses, or (4) purchase a new flood insurance policy for the property.
As of January 2, 2013 owners of subsidized policies on non-primary/secondary residences in a SFHA will see 25% increases annually until rates reflect true risk.
Beginning October 1, 2013 owners of subsidized policies on properties that have experienced severe or repeated flooding will see 25% rate increases annually until rates reflect true risk. Additionally, owners of subsidized policies on businesses/non-residential policies in SFHA will see 25% rate increase beginning October 1, 2013 until rates reflect true flood risk.
What does these flood insurance changes mean for Gainesville / Alachua County? Of the 112,766 housing units in Alachua County, only 2,934 (2.6%) have flood insurance policies. Of the houses in Alachua County with flood insurance policies, only 328 of them are subsidized.
If you have a subsidized flood insurance policy and receive a bill at policy renewal, pay your bill as you would normally do to continue your flood insurance coverage. If you have a flood insurance policy and receive a letter from FEMA asking you to obtain an elevation certificate, additional information is required to accurately rate your property (i.e. elevation certificate, photos, etc.).
*For FEMA’s definition of Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) click here.