FEMA changes rules on flood insurance discount

May 21, 2008

Tampa Bay Beach Beacon--May 20, 2008


INDIAN SHORES – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has changed its rules and will no longer offer the town’s 20 percent premium discount on certain flood insurance policies.

Indian Shores and many other communities receive a premium discount under FEMA’s Community Rating System. According to town Building Official Larry Nayman, policies renewing this month, which for example cover homes with the first living floor one foot or more below FEMA’s base flood elevation, will no longer receive the town’s 20 percent premium discount.

The CRS provides a flood insurance premium discount in participating communities that implement floodplain management activities above and beyond the minimum criteria of the National Flood Insurance Program. Nayman said that Indian Shores’ standards are above the FEMA standards.

Nayman urged citizens to look closely at their next flood insurance premium notice for the CRS discount percentage.

“For example, if the percentage shown is zero and not 20 percent,” Nayman said, “and you believe your structure’s first living floor is higher than one foot below base flood elevation, contact the building department to help determine whether it is an error and to provide you with supporting documents to correct the error.”

Nayman also advised that if a structure is out of compliance, owners should contact his office to find ways to retrofit the structure to bring it into compliance.

“If people don’t watch out, it could add up to quite a few dollars,” Nayman said. “There have been quite a few places that have been put on the list already and as time goes on more will be added.”

Nayman said that when an insurance agent shows up for a policy renewing review, the agent can look over the building to see if it meets the standards required.

The town undergoes a major audit every five years.

“So one year from this coming October we could be charged one way or the other if we don’t meet the criteria,” Nayman said.

The policy does not affect buildings that were in compliance when they were built but for which a flood zone has been changed and/or for which base flood elevation has been raised to a level above the lowest floor through the issuance of a new map. These structures can be “grandfathered” so they keep premiums based on the flood zone and/or base flood elevation at the time of construction.

Only buildings in the mapped Special Flood Hazard Area are affected.