FEMA Signals End to Flood Insurance Discounts for Lee County, Florida Homeowners (Insurance Information Institute)

FEMA Signals End to Flood Insurance Discounts for Lee County, Florida Homeowners

  Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024 Source: Insurance Information Institute

In a significant development affecting homeowners in Lee County, Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that discounts provided under the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS) will be discontinued starting October 1. This decision impacts several communities including Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers Beach, and unincorporated Lee County, all of which had been benefiting from up to 25 percent discounts on flood insurance premiums due to their proactive floodplain management practices. Specifically, unincorporated Lee County and Cape Coral, recognized for their Class 5 ratings, will see an approximate $300 increase in annual premiums for the 115,000 homeowners affected.

The rollback of discounts stems from a series of issues identified by FEMA, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022. Federal assessments revealed a substantial amount of unpermitted work, inadequate documentation, and a general failure to monitor construction and repair activities within special flood hazard areas. These shortcomings, according to FEMA, have compromised the integrity of floodplain management in these communities, leading to the withdrawal of CRS-related benefits.

Amidst escalating National Flood Insurance Program rates, partly due to the Risk Rating 2.0 reforms that aim to align premiums more closely with actual risk levels, the importance of CRS discounts has been underscored. Concurrently, Florida’s flood insurance landscape has been witnessing a significant shift towards private insurers, with nearly a third of the state’s flood policies now underwritten by private entities offering competitive rates and coverage options. This shift represents a broader national trend of growth in the private flood insurance market, reflecting increased consumer choice and potentially better value for homeowners.

FEMA has expressed its commitment to assisting the affected communities in rectifying the issues that led to the loss of their CRS discounts, echoing successes seen in places like Sea Isle City, N.J., which managed to have its Class 3 rating restored after addressing similar challenges.

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