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Flood insurance rates will increase in April for most homeowners

Expert says there are still ways to save
Posted at 7:23 PM, Mar 29, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Homeowner beware: In just three days, most of you will be paying a lot more for flood insurance premiums, even if you've never filed a claim.

The rising costs of flood insurance is creating a concerning trend but one expert has two major ways you can save.

It’s a piece of paradise by the water, but when it rains... Shore Acres, in St. Petersburg is more like a flooding nightmare.

“Yeah it’s pretty ridiculous," says neighbor Desiree Alger. "The first time I saw it, I was surprised enough that I wondered if I should get out a kayak.”

Real estate experts say this neighborhood has the worst flooding and highest insurance rates in all of Tampa Bay.

Now, another hit. Come April, homeowners under FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program will see their rates go up by about 6%.

“I just think that’s terrible and I think that’s probably going to make a lot of people not be able to afford their houses," said neighbor JoAnn Harrison.

The hike is far from unexpected. In fact, it’s required by federal law. An attempt by Congress to make up for FEMA's billions of dollars in debt. But prices have gotten so bad more Floridians are giving up on flood insurance altogether. In just five years, the total number of federal policies have fallen by 15%, according to the Associated Press.

“It is scary to think that it might even continue to go up," said Harrison.

But insurance expert Jeff DeNight says there are ways you can still save. One is to stop insuring the furniture and appliances inside your home against flooding.

“Just insure your home," he said. "Have a higher deductible in the event something bad happens you could potentially save $500-700 a year."

Another way is to shop a policy with a private company. It’s a newer option quickly gaining traction.

“Me personally in St. Pete Beach I can save $600 this upcoming renewal year by going with a private flood insurance company," said DeNight.

Private insurance premiums can be half or even less of the equivalent federal policy. But it’s certainly got its downsides. Harrison can’t wait to finish paying off her mortgage so she can cancel her policy.

“If I can’t afford it, I guess I’ll have to or sell the house," she said. Harrison has private insurance.

That’s because like any company they can also increase rates and drop at-risk homes. Additionally, some lenders reject private policies. Any consumer looking to buy or change their policy should go to an agent or insurer for more details.