Elevation certificate could drop insurance costs

Flooded street in Holmes Bea
Streets in Holmes Beach often flood in heavy rains. - Cindy Lane | Sun

To slow rising flood insurance premiums, owners of residential, rental and business properties should consider getting elevation certificates, FEMA advises.

Letters are on their way to local mailboxes notifying property owners that hiring a licensed surveyor, engineer or architect to obtain an elevation certificate could lower premiums, said Janice Mitchell, a FEMA regional insurance specialist in Atlanta.

Even if the certificate does not result in lower premiums, it would not trigger an increase higher than the existing rate increase schedule, she said.

For some policyholders who own property in high-risk flood areas like Anna Maria Island, annual flood insurance premiums are increasing from 5 to 18 percent for primary residences and up to 25 percent for non-primary residences insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Whether or not you get an elevation certificate, be careful not to let your flood insurance policy lapse.

The increases are mandated by the federal Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act to phase out discounted rates on such properties, gradually increasing their premiums up to their full risk, or actuarial, rates.

Among the affected policyholders are owners of pre-FIRM properties, those built or substantially improved on or before Dec. 31, 1974, when Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) were adopted, or before the effective date of the initial Flood Insurance Rate Map for the community in which the property is located. Anna Maria’s flood insurance rate map is dated Feb. 1, 1984, while Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach maps are both dated June 11, 1971, according to FEMA records.

Whether or not you get an elevation certificate, be careful not to let your flood insurance policy lapse, Mitchell said, because if it is discounted, it will be reissued at the full risk premium.

For more information, visit www.FEMA.gov/cost-of-flood.