TAMPA (WFLA) – For some homeowners trying to navigate Florida’s property insurance crisis, the ordeal just got even more costly.
Home insurance premiums went through the roof, and now the price of flood insurance is skyrocketing.
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi said a Hillsborough County man is facing a double-whammy.
The process to redraw flood zone maps is a long one. Months ago, when the homeowner found out about it, he didn’t think much of it.
But now, he is deeply concerned as most of his neighbors are getting hit with drastically higher rates for flood insurance.
“They’re finding their premiums going up from $500, $600 to $3-, $4,000 a year,” said Tom Colantuono.
Tom is bracing himself. The flood insurance on his Tampa home expires next month. In recent weeks, many neighbors have seen renewal rates skyrocket.
This, after FEMA determined much of this community is now considered to be in a high-risk flood zone.
“Everyone is going to get hit by this?” asked Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
“Except for about 6 to 8 houses,” said Tom.
Tom isn’t one of the lucky ones. On the FEMA flood zone map, you can see Tom’s home is designated a special flood hazard area.
That means he’s required to have flood insurance and it’ll likely be more expensive but some properties right next to Tom’s property are not in a flood zone.
“My next door neighbor’s house is in a non-flood zone, how can my house be in a flood zone?,” said Tom. “I want to know if I can challenge it — how often are we remapped? Why were we remapped? And what kind of recourse do we have?”
8 On Your Side reached out to FEMA and Hillsborough County. We found the changes to the flood maps were the first ones in decades. FEMA says the flood risk is always changing and the new maps more accurately reflect a property’s current risk.
In Hillsborough, the appeal process ended long ago, in January of 2020.
But FEMA says Tom still has one other option: He can request an amendment to the map.
The agency stated, “While this process may remove the federal mandatory purchase requirement, it does not mean the risk of flooding has been removed; it is only reduced. We strongly encourage property owners to continue to carry flood insurance with the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy.”
“I always carried it for peace of mind, it was only like $400 or $500,” said Tom.
Here is a link to a flyer that explains the process to request a map amendment.
In Hillsborough, when the new maps were created, there were a lot of changes. In the end, close to 5,000 structures were added to the high-risk category.
If you have a flood insurance story to share, email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.