TAMPA BAY — Two years after Kevin Franzese and his wife purchased their Oldsmar home the neighborhood became part of a flood zone.
“When we first got here we did not have to have flood insurance,” Franzese said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updates the flood maps every five years. In August, when FEMA finalized its latest zone study, 11,901 properties in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties were added to the high-risk list. If owners of those homes and buildings have mortgages, they must have flood coverage in addition to their property insurance policy.
Franzese says it will cost him an extra $4,000 a year for flood coverage.
Daryl Patrick, owner of Tampa Bay Insurance Center, said he's fielded numerous calls from frustrated clients whose homes now sit in a flood zone. For those with mortgages who don’t act, lenders will add what is known as a forced-placed policy to their mortgage payment.
There are steps you can take to save money on flood coverage.
First, hire a flood surveyor to see if you are eligible for a flood elevation certificate that shows whether your house sits above the base flood line.
“If the certificate has the house above the base flood elevation, then your rate is typically quite low in the neighborhood of $500 to $600,” said Patrick.
Next, get quotes from both the NFIP Direct handled by the federal government and some of the dozens of private companies who sell these policies.
Remember property insurance does not cover anything flood-related. According to FEMA, one inch of water in your home typically equals $25,000 in damages. Check with FEMA's flood maps to determine if your neighborhood sits in a flood zone check out.