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State senators consider withdrawal from flood insurance program
posted Oct 9, 2013 - 11:09:40am
State lawmakers continue to consider how they can protect homeowners covered by the National Flood Insurance Program from a planned hike in rates, with a focus now on possibly altering regulations so private insurers can have more flexibility in offering the coverage. And absent a private solution, the state may need to consider establishing a state agency as a last resort for the roughly 270,000 Florida homeowners who could face unaffordable insurance under the national program, said Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.
"I don't think it's their fault, they bought a home under a national flood insurance program that has now changed the rules on them, in the middle of the game," Simmons said.
Lawmakers continued to express concern Tuesday about the anticipated end of federal flood-insurance subsidies that Realtors claim could devastate Florida's economy. State lawmakers have called on Congress to postpone implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which phases out subsidies on older properties in flood zones.
The 2012 act calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program is run, including raising rates to reflect true flood risk and to make the program more financially stable.
With Florida accounting for about one-third of the policies in the federal program, Simmons said hopefully the threat of Florida's withdrawal from the program will spur the federal government to take action. "We can provide leverage to get a solution to this, and if we don't provide the leverage we'll have a solution of our own," Simmons said. "But I don't think our remedy is to leave these homeowners without some help."
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