Flood Insurance Changes – Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012

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Many Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples home and business owners are starting to feel the bite of the the first National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) change since 2004. Designed to allow the NFIP to raise rates to reflect the “true risk” of flood losses and make the flood program more financially stable – the Biggert-Waters Reform & Modernization Act ;2012 legislation was signed into law in July 2012 and is destined to change the face of flood insurance for years to come.

The reform will serve to increase flood insurance rates for some, but not all. While many of these changes are scheduled to begin October 1, 2013, some of the changes have already been implemented.

It cannot be understated how significantly these changes will affect some ;home and business flood insurance premiums.

Summary of the more significant changes that property owners may experience as a result of the law.

  1. The law will increase the annual limitation on premiums from 10% to 20%.
  2. The law will remove the Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) subsidies.
  3. The law will require properties that previously were not required to utilize elevation certificates as a basis for rating, obtain them.
  4. The law will require FEMA to phase in actuarial sound rates over 4 years for the following pre-FIRM properties:
    1. Non-primary residences
    2. Severe repetitive loss properties
    3. Any property where flood losses have exceeded the property value
    4. ANY business property and,
    5. Any property that has had substantial damage (>50% of fair market value)
  5. The law will charge actuarial rates to any prospective insured that refuses to accept any offer of mitigation assistance following a major disaster.

Skip to 8:22 to learn specifics about the Biggert-Waters Reform Act

Click here to download the directions to your computer.

The link below enables you to access the Lee Count Spatial Information System, commonly calls “Lee Spins.” It is a geographic information system that provides a variety of information about property in Lee County, including flood zones.

Please note that the flood zone status of parcels in Unincorporated Lee County is updated with Letters of Map Change approved by FEMA since the zones became effective Aug. 28, 2008. Parcels outside unincorporated Lee County in the cities of Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel and the town of Fort Myers Beach reflect the zone status as of Sept. 28, 2008.

Click Here to Launch the Interactive Viewer

Follow these steps to look up a flood zone:

  1. Wait for the viewer to fully load. Parcel Search and Map Contents boxes will appear on your screen.
  2. In the “Parcel Search” box, choose whether to search by street address, STRAP or owner name.
  3. In the line below the example, enter the STRAP, owner or address information according to your choice, then click “Search”. TIP: If searching by address, omit “road,” “lane,” “blvd.,” etc. Enter the address or name as it appears on Lee Property Appraiser records and your TRIM Notice.
  4. The search result(s) will appear in the “Parcel Search” box. Check to be sure this is the parcel of interest to you, or scroll down the list to find your parcel.
  5. Click the Property Report icon (first icon below the parcel address) to open the Parcel Report from the Lee Property Appraiser’s Web site. This includes the legal description required for Letter of Map Amendment applications to FEMA.
  6. Click the Flood Information icon (middle icon) for a Spatial District Query Report summarizing basic information related to the flood zone on that parcel.
  7. To zoom to a property, select (click) the record from the “Parcel Search” results.
  8. To add the flood map boundaries and aerials to your map, check the box beside “Public Safety” and “2012 Aerial Photography” under “Map Contents”. The map will refresh, displaying these layers. You may also turn additional features on to customize the information illustrated on the map. Ensure the group layer check box is checked on if you have turned on layers within that group.

In addition to the changes made to the rating process of flood policy’s – severe penalties will be imposed on lenders who fail to ensure that borrowers maintain the required coverage. Under the new law penalties will increase for lenders from $350 to $2,000 per violation and a removal of the maximum limit of annual penalties.

It’s vital that you speak with your flood insurance provider to see what those changes will be and how it will affect your home or business flood insurance policy.

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