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By Timothy O'Hara Key West CitizenAugust 8, 2017

Congress has to reauthorize the program every five years, and the deadline for reauthorization is 12 days before the program expires on Sept. 30. If Congress has not decided what long-term proposal it wants to support, it can extend it several months at a time until legislators finalize a proposal.

Monroe County officials are actively lobbying to limit increases in federal flood insurance policies.

The Monroe County Commission is supporting S.B. 1368 and its companion bill H.R. 3285 and not the House Financial Services Committee’s proposal because it is “more consumer friendly,” County Mayor George Neugent wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Keys.

S.B. 1368 and H.R. 3285 cap rate increases to under 10 percent a year for all properties, au

“As you know, the bills approved by the Financial Services Committee are detrimental to Florida consumers and local governments,” Neugent’s July 21 letter to Curbelo stated. “The bills will increase costs for policyholders, create unfunded mandates by increasing regulatory burdens and responsibilities for local governments and lead to fewer participants in the NFIP, which will undermine the integrity of the program.”

Curbelo, R-Homestead, is now a co-sponsor of H.R. 3285.

There is also another proposal that is less dire to property owners than the House Financial Services’ one. The Safe, Affordable, Fair and Efficient NFIP proposal includes provisions to limit premium rate increases and creates mitigation programs.

The SAFE NFIP proposal is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of federal legislators including Florida senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, according to Neugent’s letter.

Both windstorm and flood insurance rate increases are some of the most critical issues facing the Keys when its come to keeping working people in the chain of islands.

Annual increases can result in residents paying hundreds and thousands of dollars more in rates.

The last time Congress reauthorized the NFIP in 2012 it led to sizable rate increases for Florida residents and business owners. The act resulted in 20 to 25 percent rate increases for homeowners in the Florida Keys.

Some of those rate increases were reduced in 2014 with the passing of the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act. The act, however, didn’t lower rates for commercial properties like apartment complexes or for second homes.


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