FIRM is a grassroots organization formed in 2006 by concerned 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.

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 $900 million in premiums over claims paid. FIRM’s work keeps $60 million
 per year in the Keys economy.

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 logo

For more than 18 years FIRM has been Monroe County’s advocate

  • 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  • Supported the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA), which repealed the most damaging aspects of Biggert-Waters.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.

Recent wind insurance 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.

Recent Flood insurance 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 re-authorization 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.

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