ORLANDO, Fla. — A new way of measuring flood risk to determine flood insurance premiums is taking the helm all over the country.
Experts say that flood risk in the past was measured by old-fashioned maps.
Ana Regina Myrrha, an agency principal at American Insurance Point, said FEMA’s risk rating 2.0 is a fair and more effective way to measure a property’s true flood risk.
Myrrha said about 70% of her clients are seeing an increase in their monthly premiums with FEMA’s new method of measuring flood insurance risk.
“A house that has fewer incidents will be paying less," she said. "If you’re on a high incidence area, you’re going to be paying more."
She said the increase varies from 4% to 18%, the maximum increase possible based on FEMA’s cap.
“We have had clients calling because they’ve had a rate increase and that’s what it means,” said Myrrha. “You’re paying now a fair price, it’s not fair to our pockets, I know it’s not, but it’s a fair risk to the risk your property represents.”
Clarence Laster’s home in Orlo Vista is located in a high-prone flood risk area. His home survived hurricanes Irma and Ian. Both times were catastrophic, though, and caused about $200,000 in damages from flooding.
“The lakes overflowed along with the storm water, the hurricane brought a lot of water down,” said Laster. “It was raining, I got my flashlight, all you could see down there, it was like a lake.”
Laster said he paid an annual premium of $1,500 for flood insurance to cover his home recently. He said he learned his lesson after the past two hurricanes.
“It was very important because FEMA required us to get it,” said Laster. “Because they did. Both times, they helped me repair everything and helped me get money to replace most of what I lost. This time, if they have to come back, the requirements for them to help, you’re going to have to have that flood insurance and your homeowner’s policy.”
When it comes time for a renewal, Laster said he’s prepared for a potential increase with this new rating system.
“I think it’s fair for how the rates are right now,” said Laster. “We’re living in a tropical paradise, so it’s best to have the insurance, especially if you’re trying to get the government to help.”
Myrrha said if people live on the coast, beachfront, they can obviously expect to see a higher increase.
This year's hurricane season starts on June 1.