The property insurance crisis in Florida kept FIRM as busy in 2022. Over the course of two special sessions—one in May and one in December—the Florida Legislature introduced some legislation that is helpful to policyholders such as the reinstatement of My Safe Florida Home Program and the 2-year sales tax exemption on impact windows and doors. But mostly the legislation favors the insurance industry with no relief for policyholders.


Since 2006, FIRM has saved Monroe County windstorm and flood insurance policy holders more than $900 million in insurance premiums.

Our Significant Wind Insurance 2022 achievements

  • Advocated for the reinstatement of the 10% rate cap for Citizens Property Insurance residential wind insurance policies in Monroe County through meetings and correspondence with our legislators, agency heads, and cabinet members. FIRM attended remotely the quarterly Citizens Board of Governors meetings up until the Citizens Rate Hearing in March of 2022.
  • Worked with The Southern Group, FIRM’s contracted lobbyists, to obtain an exemption from the 1% annual increase in Citizens glide path for Monroe County, an increase on the $1m coverage limit, and a return to the glide path for second homes used as long-term rentals for workforce housing. As a result, second homes rented for 9 consecutive months or more were returned to the Citizens glide path—supporting those owners who support our local workforce.
  • Met with CFO Jimmy Patronis, Rep. Jim Mooney, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, and Citizens Legislative Director Christine Ashburn during Florida Keys Day in February 2022. The meeting with the CFO strengthened FIRM’s existing relationship with the Division of Consumer Services and Insurance Consumer
    Advocate Tasha Carter who serves under his leadership. The premium to claims ratio in Monroe County was noted by both the CFO and Commissioner Altmaier, giving weight to the idea of a Monroe County model.
  • Researched the viability of a Monroe County Mutual Insurance Corporation as the final step to completion of the RIPP project. Such an endeavor would require major commitments from all stakeholders, including local governments. While not an immediate solution, the topic is not off the table for FIRM as we continue to explore all options.
  • Continued the partnership begun in 2020 with the City of Key West, Monroe County and the Monroe County Extension Services for a Keyswide Home Elevation Education Project (KHEEP). The project demystified the
    steps of home elevation and put all of that information on FIRM’s website. https://firmkeys.org/keyswide-home-elevation-education-project/
  • FIRM Board members serve on the Community Rating System (CRS) Program for Public Information (PPI) committee. As of April 1, 2022, Monroe County is rated Class 3 in the CRS program, earning residents a 35% discount on NFIP
    policies. Key West is a Class 5 community with a 25% discount; Islamorada, Layton and Marathon are Class 6 communities with a 20% discount; and Key Colony Beach is a Class 7 community with a 15% discount.
  • Continued relationships with all three Monroe County Realtor® associations to keep our Realtor® partners updated on windstorm and flood insurance issues.
  • Updating our FIRM website: Expanded a comprehensive flood map landing page; updated the Keyswide Home Elevation Education landing page; and added a Risk Rating 2.0 landing page that includes a live dashboard. Insurance agents from anywhere in the country can input rating data in our landing page database to illustrate the true premium increases triggered by the new methodology. The website also features a Hurricane Ian Resource page.
  • Co-sponsored “Oceana Phenomena: Sea Level Stories – The art of Jane Lawton Baldridge” with First Horizon Foundation and The Studios of Key West. The exhibit ran the month of October 2022 and featured Jane’s multi-media interpretations of her life-time on the sea. Using three-dimensional figures, Jane’s work aims to make the viewer aware of the reality of sea level rise outside of the use of graphs and data.
  • FIRM was successful in restoring second homes rented as workforce housing to the Citizens glide path.
  • FIRM officers and/or its representatives attended virtually and in person and/or testified at:
    o Citizens Rate Hearing in March
    o Citizens Board of Governors Meetings in June, September, and December
    o Monroe County Delegation meeting
    o Florida Realtors District 4 Town Hall Meeting with state legislative candidates
    o Met with Congressman Carlos Gimenez, State Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez and State Representative Jim Mooney.
  • FIRM continued efforts to develop and seek approval for revised windstorm insurance mitigation forms that would correctly recognize Monroe County building codes and provide for associated windstorm premium credits. The
    revised form has been submitted to the City of Key West Building Department.

Flood Insurance Accomplishments

Other Flood Insurance Activities/Accomplishments: FIRM’S efforts in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization and modification include:

  • Membership in the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI), a national coalition of approximately 250 organizations across 35 states, focused on advocating for a stronger policy framework for the NFIP.
  • Lobbying Members of Congress for Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program with meaningful reforms including affordability, mitigation funding, program expansion, transparent rate structure, reduced program costs, and support for resilient communities.
  • Aligning FIRM’s legislative position regarding NFIP reforms with those of Monroe County and the Florida Association of Counties to maximize legislative impact.
  • Supporting and working with Monroe County staff on reauthorization of the NFIP.
  • Attending National Association of Realtors Legislative Meetings in Washington, DC.
  • Publicizing the issues surrounding reauthorization of the NFIP.
  • Challenging FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 Methodology for lack of transparency and removal of mitigation incentives in a white paper submitted to members of Florida’s legislative delegation and to FEMA’s Assistant Administrator David
    Maurstad.

Other Noteworthy Achievements

  • FIRM continued to provide speakers for a wide range of organizations throughout the Keys by giving presentations virtually and in-person and increased outreach by appearing on local radio programs.
  • FIRM participated in community events such as the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys Unsung Hero program and Key West Association of Realtors Affiliate Expo.
  • FIRM continued to update its website to better comply with ADA requirements to meet the needs of Monroe County residents and members.
  • FIRM held its second Little Palm Island Fundraiser for a one-night stay at the luxury resort.
  • FIRM successfully moved Hurricanes Are a Drag and Giving Tuesday Fundraisers to on-line events. Total raised for all three events was $29,000, used to fund operations and reserves.
  • FIRM board members and staff currently participate in the following government, civic, professional and non-profit organizations:
  • Government
  • o Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • o Monroe County CRS Program for Public Information Committee
  • o Monroe County Land Use Authority Advisory Committee
  • o Executive Director, City of Key West Citizen Review Board
  • Civic/Professional
  • o American Society of News Editors
  • o Chartered Property/Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) Society
  • o Florida Keys Board of Realtors
  • o Florida Keys Contractors Association
  • o Hometown! Key West
  • o Islamorada Chamber of Commerce
  • o Key Largo Chamber of Commerce
  • o Key West Ambassador Academy Alumni
  • o Key West Association of Realtors
  • o Key West Business Guild
  • o Key West Chamber of Commerce
  • o Key West Navy League
  • o Key West Sunrise Rotary
  • o Marathon Chamber of Commerce
  • o Marathon and Lower Keys Association of Realtors
  • o Monroe County Democrats
  • o Rotary Club of Key West
  • o Stars and Stripes National Publisher’s Advisory Board
  • o Upper Keys Business Professional Women Organization Board of Directors
  • Non-Profit
  • o End Citizens United
  • o Equality Florida
  • o Key West Aids Memorial, Board of Directors
  • o Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden
  • o Key West Woman’s Club
  • o Leadership Monroe County Alumni
  • o LGBTQ+Victory Fund, Campaign Board
  • o Peace Covenant Presbyterian Church
  • o Take Stock in Children

FIRM Plans for 2023

  • Continue efforts to repeal the discriminatory and non-actuarially sound flood insurance requirement for Citizens policyholders that passed in the December 2022 special session. Efforts were successful in obtaining an
    exemption for condo owners.
  • Build relationships with the new Florida Insurance Commissioner and the new CEO of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
  • Continue to work with Members of Congress and organizations around the country to press for transparency and affordability of FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0.
  • Inform the community of the new requirements for receiving CRS credits.
  • Ensure a carve-out for Monroe County to retain Citizens’ 10% rate cap, increase replacement value cost for Monroe County Citizens policies, and seat a Monroe County representative on the Citizens Board of Governors.
  • Work with state lawmakers Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Rep. Jim Mooney as they represent Monroe County issues related to property insurance.
  • Update the Monroe County Property Insurance Users Guide to reflect the changes brought about by Florida’s recent legislation and FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0.
  • Build relationships with Florida lawmakers and policymakers outside of Monroe County to help them understand our challenges.
  • Work with members of Congress on FIRM’s NFIP reauthorization priorities and FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0.
  • Work with the Office of Insurance Regulation to develop a Monroe County specific hurricane model run.
  • Be prepared to work with local governments to coordinate a response to FEMA’s comments on the flood map appeals submitted in 2021.
  • Conduct a multi-pronged outreach program to help property owners understand the implications of FEMA’s flood maps once adopted.
  • Increase FIRM membership.
  • Cultivate, expand and diversify institutional and individual donor relationships.
  • Continue to look for alternatives to Citizens Property Insurance.
  • Continue to raise awareness of FIRM’s mission, efforts and accomplishments through enhanced public outreach efforts.

Who we are

FIRM is a grassroots organization formed in 2006 composed of homeowners and residents in Monroe County. FIRM‘s fight for fair, equitable and affordable property insurance rates for homeowners, residents and business owners protects property values and contributes to housing affordability. FIRM empowers Monroe County residents to make informed decisions about property insurance coverage, the claims process, hurricane damage mitigation, and storm preparedness.

FIRM is composed of two distinct non-profit organizations:

FIRMKeys, a 501(c) (3) community service provider that conducts research and provides information, guidance, and assistance on property insurance topics to the Monroe County community. Donations to FIRMKeys may be deductible on
personal Federal Income Tax returns.

FIRM PAC, a 501(c) (4) political advocacy group that seeks to influence government and industry policy affecting property insurance rates in Monroe County. Donations to FIRM PAC are not tax deductible on personal income tax returns, but may be deductible as expenses on business tax returns.


FIRM has previously:

  • Lobbied local, state, and federal government lawmakers and regulators.
  • Successfully challenged windstorm insurance rate increases, including a freeze on rates from 2018-2021.
  • Successfully worked to return second homes used as workforce housing rentals to Citizens glide path.
  • Helped repeal worst aspects of Biggert-Waters flood insurance bill.
  • Supported the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA), which repealed the most damaging aspects of Biggert-Waters.
  • Supported the successful Key West building height referendum.
  • Mobilized citizen campaigns.
  • Advocated for homeowners to insurance policymakers, including the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology, the Florida Governor’s Office, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, Florida Division of Consumer Services, and the Insurance Consumer Advocate.
  • Served on insurance policy panels including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.


Without FIRM, it is likely that every policyholder in the Keys would be paying at least twice
as much every year for windstorm insurance alone. Since 2004 Monroe County has paid
Citizens over $850 million in premiums over claims paid. FIRM’s work keeps $60 million
per year in the Keys economy.


In 2022, FIRM received significant funding from the following:

Local Governments:

  • City of Key West
  • Monroe County
  • City of Marathon
  • Village of Islamorada

Nonprofits

  • First Horizon Foundation
  • Key West Sunrise Rotary Club
  • Sexton Family Foundation Trust
    Associations:
  • Florida REALTORS ® Political Action Committee (RPAC)
  • Marathon and Lower Keys Association of Realtors®
  • Key West Association of Realtors®
  • Sugarloaf Shores Property Owners Assn.

Businesses:

  • Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
  • Brandvold Appraisal of the Florida Keys
  • Centennial Bank
  • Coldwell Banker Schmitt – Brian Schmitt
  • Coldwell Banker Schmitt – Lisa Ferringo Group
  • Coldwell Banker Schmitt – Patti Nickless
  • Duck Key Realty – Vacation Rentals of the Florida Keys
  • Florida Keys Realty Group
  • Harrell Real Estate
  • Insurance Office of America – Mel Montagne
  • Internet Realty of the Florida Keys
  • Island Breeze Realty
  • Key Colony Beach Realty – Lisa Joseph
  • Law Offices of Thomas D. Wright
  • Mortgage Lending Solutions
  • Ocean Sotheby’s International Real Estate – Ally Kelley
  • Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty – Jo Ann Cook
  • Opal Key Resort & Marina
  • Reece & Associates Surveyors
  • Royal Furniture
  • The New Home Spot
  • Tropical Soup

Individual members:

  • Clements Family Charitable Trust
  • Greg Coldiron
  • Margaret Crowley
  • Brenda Donnelly
  • Bryan Hawks
  • Mary Houston
  • Ally Kelley
  • Steve & Kathy Russ


Fundraisers:

  • Key West Association of Realtors Fishing Tournament
  • Hurricanes are a Drag Fundraiser
  • Marathon and Lower Keys Association Golf Tournament
  • Little Palm Island Fundraiser
  • Giving Tuesday/Year End on-line fund drive

2022 Financials

2022 990 Report

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