Rising tide of federal flood insurance imperils communities such as Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key

Rising tide of federal flood insurance imperils communities such as Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key  

March 31, 2015

Municipal leaders and others in Anna Maria Island’s three cities who are trying to stem the flight of permanent, full-time residents and preserve their communities’ historic identity face another threat, likely greater than zoning and ordinance issues.

The continuing surge in the construction of giant vacation homes — in reality, residential hotels — is certainly changing the complexion of the island. But soaring flood insurance rates may drive out residents even quicker.

They won’t be alone. Every property owner with a home or business near rivers, bays, and lakes, and, of course, the Gulf of Mexico, will be hit with National Flood Insurance Program rate increases until those premiums reach the total risk of land that sits in a mapped flood zone.

The hike for primary homeowners will average 10 percent annually, and secondary vacation-home owners will average 18 percent, both with surcharges adding to the bill.

Those rate hikes start Wednesday, April Fool’s Day, a rather cruel twist adopted by Congress in the delay of implementation of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act.

Before Washington adopted the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, annual premium increases would have average 25 percent for properties in flood zones.

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