Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers was among a group of elected officials and insurance advocates who gathered Friday in Tallahassee.

BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com

Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers was among a group of elected officials and insurance advocates who gathered Friday in Tallahassee to begin to formulate a statewide campaign to battle rising flood insurance rates.

Carruthers is the co-chair of the Florida Association of Counties Federal Committee, which reviews federal legislation for impacts on Florida counties. The association sponsored an all-day symposium Friday on the rising rates for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Participants included Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, a representative of Sen. Bill Nelson’s office, members of both Florida Bankers and Realtors associations and a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administer the NFIP.

“It was a very interesting and diverse group of people,” Carruthers said. “We spoke about a broad range of topics.”

The group met because federal legislators will begin the reauthorization of the NFIP next year. Also, FEMA has already begun to update its flood maps which could also lead to increases in rates.

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

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

The group discussed Friday ways to make FEMA’s process more “transparent” which would allow private insurance experts to review and challenge the findings of FEMA personnel that created the models that are used to set rates, Carruthers said. They discussed enlisting the help of the Florida’s Congressional Delegation with the request, Carruthers said.

“The process is not transparent at all,” Carruthers said. “The state insurance process is vetted publicly. FEMA doesn’t do that. There is no public review.”

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