Pinellas homeowners relieved at flood insurance bill - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas homeowners relieved at flood insurance bill

Posted: Updated:
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

They were the flood insurance hikes thousands of Bay area homeowners feared would make them lose their homes or force them to abandon them.

But Thursday evening, the U.S. Senate passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, a bill that could provide some relief.

"The big thing ... is that it doesn't delay Biggert-Waters, it simply creates a solution," said Jake Holehouse, Vice President of Holehouse Insurance in St. Petersburg.

The Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act 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.

Holehouse said what the bill does is basically phase in rate increases.

"It's going to phase rates in at 15 percent a year over the foreseeable future until you hit your elevation certificate rate," he said. "It lets homeowners either go to the private market and know what their worst-case scenario is or stick in the FEMA program until they get to their worst-case scenario. But the biggest thing is - it's not just an instant change, it's a long-term solution to flood insurance"

Holehouse believes it will now allow the private market to come in, do the research on flood insurance, and make their own rates.

"So instead of 2 private market options, we see the future as you will have as many private market flood insurance options as you do private homeowners insurance options," he said. "It gives direction to where FEMA's going and how fast they're going there."

Holehouse said that in the meantime, checking into the private market won't hurt.

"If you get a private market Lloyds of London or Homeowner's Choice policy and now FEMA comes back and they're a better option... they will actually give you a prorated premium refund to go back to FEMA," he said. "You can actually retro-date a private market flood policy 90 days. If you had one of those renewals, you could actually get that $10,000 refund and go to a $4,000 rate… potentially."

County records show out of more than 30,000 properties were going to be 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.

One of those is Chris Dailey, who owns a home in Shore Acres.

"Really, it stole our homes," he said about his rate increase that was going from $1,700 to $8,000. "Our homes went from being our retirement to being worth absolutely nothing."

For now, he knows relief is just in the form of a bill unless the President decides to sign off on the changes.

"I really feel that we're almost at the finish line," Dailey said. "Once that signature happens … we're home-free."

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


  • Don't Miss ItMore>>

  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:31 GMT
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
  • Koala survives 54-mile ride clinging to car's grill

    Koala survives 54-mile ride clinging to car's grill

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 1:59 PM EDT2014-07-29 17:59:42 GMT
    Timberwolf clung to a car for 54 miles. Australia Zoo Facebook photoTimberwolf clung to a car for 54 miles. Australia Zoo Facebook photo
    An adorable little koala survived an amazing high-speed ride by clinging to a car for 54 miles on an Australia highway. The koala suffered a torn nail during the ordeal.
    An adorable little koala survived an amazing high-speed ride by clinging to a car for 54 miles on an Australia highway. The koala suffered a torn nail during the ordeal.
  • FWC: Lionfish need to be removed from Florida waters

    FWC: Lionfish need to be removed from Florida waters

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:48 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:48:07 GMT
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is changing management rules of invasive lionfish to remove them from state waters. Lionfish was introduced to state waters in the 1980s, and since then, populations have boomed in recent years, negatively impacting native wildlife and habitat, the FWC says.
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is changing management rules of invasive lionfish to remove them from state waters. Lionfish was introduced to state waters in the 1980s, and since then, populations have boomed in recent years, negatively impacting native wildlife and habitat, the FWC says.
  • Most Viewed Stories on WFLA.com

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
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.