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Changes to flood maps could impact your insurance

Posted at 3:07 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 22:19:31-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — If you don’t have flood insurance, you may soon be required to enroll.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, is changing its flood maps and risk zones throughout South Florida.

Current maps were adopted in 2017, which determine if your flood insurance policy is optional or mandatory.

"We see remapping typically every three years," said Fielding McElroy with Bullen Insurance Group.

The most recent preliminary report from FEMA showed thousands of homeowners in Palm Beach County may soon go from low risk to high risk, making it mandatory to get coverage.

"We have clients call almost daily that their insurance rates are increasing due to the remapping of flood zones," said McElroy.

In North Palm Beach, one of several municipalities impacted by the recent proposed changes, there are 1,400 homes that could see their zone change. At its latest council meeting on Jan. 23, leaders discussed hiring a consultant to appeal the changes.

"People, if they have a flood policy today, we can grandfather their older BFE, base flood elevation," said Patricia Latshaw, Senior Vice President of Compliance at Wright Flood. "So if they’ve had continuous coverage through the NSIP, or they built in compliance, we want to give them that better rate because they did what they were supposed to when they initially built the building. So they shouldn’t be penalized for that."

On Feb. 4 and 5, FEMA will be holding open house meetings at the Mary V. McDonald-Wilson Center off Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach.

"People think it’s scary, but really it’s not. The more informed you are the better, so it’s really important you go to these meetings," said Latshaw.

It’s a chance to speak one-on-one with experts to see how these changes directly affect you.

Homeowners without a mortgage are not required to get flood insurance.

"If they do have a flood, their homeowners policy is not going to cover flood or storm surge," said McElroy.

After the upcoming public meetings are held, there will be a 90-day appeal period. Then shortly after that, FEMA will make final decisions. But experts said it could take up to a year to go into effect.

For more information about the meetings and changes in North Palm Beach, click here.