Floridians Face Surging Rate Hikes in National Flood Insurance Program

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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is supervised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is set to increase premiums in 2014.  The cost is steep for Florida, which holds 37 percent of the federal flood insurance program’s policies.

Homeowners who are renewing their insurance face skyrocketing premiums, up to 20 percent in communities like Pinellas County.  he high premiums are a result of changes to the NFIP, being implemented by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

With Florida having more coastline than any state, Floridians have more flood policies and pay more into the program.  The flood insurance rate increases affect Florida home sales and other title transfers. Although Florida theoretically stands the highest chance of flooding, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy led to more NFIP claims being made in other states than Florida.  Not only does Florida have the highest number of subsidized flood insurance policies, it is the state with the highest exposure to pay into claims, at $475 billion.  Texas and Louisiana have the second and third highest exposure, at $162 billion and $112 billion, respectively.

ImageCourtesy of NRDC

According to a recent report by the Center for Competitive Florida, which analyzes the changes in the NFIP, Superstorm Sandy claims were estimated at up to $15 billion.  Comparatively, Florida had $407 million in Tropical Storm Isaac claims in 2012.

Another study, conducted by the Wharton Center for Risk Management and Decision Processes, compared the amount of claims paid to the amount of premiums collected and revealed that Florida paid $3.60 for every dollar NFIP paid in a flood claim anywhere.  The study showed that 11 states received more in payouts than was paid in premiums by the states’ policyholders over the course of 30 years.

Currently, the NFIP is $24 billion in debt. Thus, Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act.  The goal of the reforms is to reduce the debt by eliminating subsidized rates on older homes that don’t represent the properties’ true flood risk, and make the program more stable.  Previously, rate increases were capped at 10 percent, but some Floridians risk paying four or six times their current rate, or even more.

Florida legislators are attempting to get a delay or roll back of the new rates passed before the session closes for the year, but Congress has yet to agree to delay any changes to the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

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Overhead and Profit is now Officially Fair Game for General Contractors

The dispute about whether general contractors are entitled to compensation from insurance companies for overhead and profit charges is now officially over.  In an opinion published by the Supreme Court of Florida on July 3, 2013, Trinidad v. Florida Peninsula Ins. Co., 38 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 507 (Fla. 2013), the Court held general contractors ARE entitled to such charges under a replacement cost homeowner’s policy.  Specifically, the ruling held that homeowners are entitled to payment for overhead and profit when the insured (homeowner) is reasonably likely to need a general contractor.

The Court reasoned that overhead and profit are a necessary component of replacement cost policies since the policy is expressly intended to compensate a homeowner for the cost to replace the damaged property.  Moreover, the Trinidad holding specifically overruled Second District Court of Appeals opinion that had previously held that general contractors were only entitled to payment for overhead and profit when the homeowner had actually incurred such charges or where reasonably likely to incur such charges.The ruling in Trinidad is a step in the right direction. However, there is a still an enormous amount of work to do in order to keep the momentum moving in the proper direction. Please feel free to contact our office if you have any specific questions about the impact or application of this ruling.

Article Written By: Paul T. Zeniewicz, Esquire

 

Attorney at: Cohen Battisti, Attorneys at Law

Paul T. Zeniewicz, Esquire is an attorney at Cohen Battisti.  His practice primarily focuses on first party insurance claims. 

South Florida Restoration Symposium

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Press Release – The Time to Organize is Now!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2013

House Bill 909 (2013) may affect home owners and Florida restoration contractors

The time to act is now! Florida’s restoration industry will unite against HB 909 (2013)

Orlando, Florida, February 27, 2013 – Cohen Battisti Attorneys is joining with the restoration industry and Florida Justice Associations in an attempt to defeat HB 909 (2013). This bill would prohibit assignments under homeowner’s policies. This would be a major blow to the industry and completely give all the power back to the insurance companies. For instance, a restoration company will no longer be protected against insurance companies for jobs that have been performed without being paid up-front. No restoration company will want to do these jobs for free because without an assignment of benefits restorers have no protection. Therefore, if a hurricane were to hit the state of Florida, all the homes that are damaged will go un-repaired until restoration companies receive payment upfront. After that, the damage will be so extensive, insurance companies will deny claims and all the homeowners in Florida will be in a much worse position.

The time to organize is now! Homeowners and the restoration industry should contact their local representatives and tell them how this bill will negatively affect their businesses and homes.

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx

For more information about House Bill 909 (2013) please contact Cohen Battisti Attorneys at (407) 478-4878.

Contact Information: 

Carol M. Palacio

Carol@CohenBattisti.com
Cohen Battisti Attorneys at Law
1211 Orange Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 478-4878
www.CohenBattisti.com

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