Homeowners fear 'nightmare' from flood insurance increases - WFLA News Channel 8

Homeowners fear 'nightmare' from flood insurance increases

Posted: Updated:
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Shore Acres homeowner Chris Dailey feels like a massive increase in federal flood insurance premiums has put his neighborhood between a rock and a hard place.

"Our homes are worth nothing right now,” Dailey said Wednesday. “Nobody is buying or selling any houses. We're stuck. We're stuck in our houses forever."

Dailey said when he bought his house in 1994 flood insurance cost him $230. He remembers it well. He kept the bill.

But since 2006 he’s seen about a $300 increase in premiums each year. This year’s bill was nearly $1600. Nothing could’ve prepared him for what to expect for next year – except for when a neighbor, who has almost exactly the same property value, received his bill.

Dailey knows his bill will likely now be $8,000 too.

"The structure of my house...I could probably rebuild it for about $30,000,” Dailey said. “It doesn't make any sense for FEMA to charge us $8,000 and none of us have been flooded really since hurricane Elena back in 1985."

The changes are coming because of the new Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act. It took effect in early October and ends flood insurance subsidies on hundreds of thousands of older houses. The changes are supposed to strengthen the finances of the federal flood insurance program, which has been struggling with about $30 billion in debt after storms like Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, according to CNN.

Because of it, some homeowners will have to pay thousands more for their premiums.

"I have children who live in the flood area,” said Sonny Friedman, who lives near Dailey. “It might be coming to a point: Do they walk away from their house? Do they lose their equity?"

Friedman said he’s above flood stage. But he’s worried about what the hikes will do to the value of his community and houses like Dailey’s, which sits 4.7 feet below the base flood elevation.

"We have a nightmare here,” Friedman said. “Somebody better do something before we see another loss of homes, bankruptcies, and foreclosures."

In a town hall meeting Wednesday night Rep. Dwight Dudley (D-St. Petersburg) urged homeowners to back him in asking the state legislature to push the federal government to delay the hikes.

"That would be the first move sort of [to put a] tourniquet on the wound immediately,” Dudley told News Channel 8. "By getting a delay by a year or two at least we can put this thing under the microscope or at least a magnifying glass and look at this more completely."

Panelists Wednesday night, including the Pinellas Co. Property Appraiser, said misconception around the country is that others are footing the bill to help subsidize flood insurance for rich people on the beaches. While in fact, county records show, out of more than 30,000 properties impacted by the hike, only 253 are homes with a market value over $1 million. Nearly 700 are occupied by veterans and 1,100 by low income seniors. About 22,000 are homes with no water front or view at all.

"It's not mostly rich people affected by this. It's the common people,” said Jake Holehouse, of Holehouse Insurance in St. Petersburg.

People who have a mortgage in a flood zone are required to pay for flood insurance. So Holehouse says a lot of clients are left scraping by.

"One of the worst ones we have is … a customer going from $2,300 to $23,000,” he said.

He said that homeowner only has $200,000 in coverage, so in ten years she could pay the house off every year based on her flood premiums.

He suggests that homeowners get an elevation certificate to know exactly what their elevation is versus the base flood elevation.

"We have some home owners in 1920s homes in flood zones and their premium rates are going down because of this and we have other people that are going severely up. So really without that elevation certificate, it's hard to know what the future of your house is,” he said. "If you're a foot below base flood elevation, you're not going to see severe rate increases because you already pay a higher rate in the … category. If you're 5 feet or 6 feet below, that's when you start to have a problem. That's when you start to see these premium rates of $8,000 to $10,000."

Holehouse said people who bought their homes between July 6, 2012 and Sept 30, 2013, are the most caught off-guard by this because they had no idea the hikes were coming. In all, about 35 percent of county flood policies are directly affected by the hike, which means roughly 10% of homeowners are impacted, he said.

He, too, is hoping the government will delay the increases.

"In partnership with FEMA the state of Florida can work to find a way to be able to make house-lifting grants or do something,” he said.

Follow Josh Green on Twitter: @WFLAJoshG

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:59 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:59:58 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:45:14 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
  • 'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    Monday, July 21 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-07-21 22:37:35 GMT
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
  • New surveillance shows Tampa boy's death as hit and run

    New surveillance shows Tampa boy's death as hit and run

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 4:51 PM EDT2014-07-22 20:51:45 GMT
    A still image from a business surveillance camera shows what appears to be a small boy running on the sidewalk.A still image from a business surveillance camera shows what appears to be a small boy running on the sidewalk.
    New surveillance video has Tampa Police investigating 4-year-old Marterrance Albury's death as a hit and run. 
    New surveillance video has Tampa Police investigating 4-year-old Marterrance Albury's death as a hit and run. 
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.