As the hurricane season draws to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of insurance policies. This fall we experienced King Tides and significant rainfall, even though we were spared the destruction from Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole as a rare late-season November storm. Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover damages and losses due to flooding, so it’s important to consider protecting your property with windstorm and flood insurance policies.
To the credit of our residents, approximately 80% of single-family homes in Miami Beach already have flood insurance. Flood insurance for single-family homes is generally purchased through a homeowners insurance agent as a separate policy. If you own or rent a condo or apartment, purchasing a policy is also encouraged. If you aren’t insured, you may not be reimbursed for your belongings in the unfortunate case that the building becomes inaccessible due to flooding.
There has been recent activity from our State lawmakers in their property insurance Special Session. Candidly, I was very disappointed with the outcome as it appears the Legislature adopted solely measures offered by the insurance industry with little or no consumer perspective. Don’t expect these incredibly high rates to go down anytime soon (if at all). Also, the Legislature approved measures intended to force homeowners out of the Citizens risk pool over the next few years and into the private market where prices could skyrocket even higher.
One of the ways the Legislature is trying to “depopulate” Citizens is to require Florida property owners that hold Citizens insurance to also purchase flood insurance even if they are not on a ground floor. Now, most property owners on Miami Beach do carry flood insurance already, since 93% of Miami Beach buildings are in the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area and insurance is required for federally backed mortgages. However, I do think it is important for those residents that may have Citizens property insurance to note (even residents in the upper floors of condos) that this requirement is coming, and according to the State will be phased in over the next four years, starting in April with people who own property in a flood zone. I encourage you to contact your flood insurance agent to evaluate your options and be prepared for this coming requirement. Let’s not forget it is also vital for all residents and businesses to carry flood insurance in order to facilitate faster recovery from any possible flood events. FEMA records show that Miami Beach businesses and small residential buildings (two to four units) have a lower rate of coverage. If you don’t currently have coverage, we urge you to obtain flood insurance and contact your property owner or insurance agent to get more information.
There is no doubt insurance is expensive and the cost has been increasing. Miami Beach is eligible for discounted flood insurance rates due to the city’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). With the city’s retention of its Class 5 rating under FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS), our community will continue to receive a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums — amounting to an annual savings of $8.6 million. Remember to check with your insurance agent to make sure you are receiving the maximum discount. Through the city’s multi-departmental efforts in resilience and flood mitigation, Miami Beach has distinguished itself as one of only three municipalities in Miami-Dade to achieve that rating.
You can also stay connected and informed in inclement weather by following the city on Facebook and Twitter. Visit www.MBALERTS.com or text “MBALERT” to 888777 to receive emergency alerts via text message.
To learn more about flooding and resilience, visit www.mbrisingabove.com. To learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program visit www.floodsmart.gov. Explore Miami Beach’s flood awareness resource page here: Flood Awareness | City of Miami Beach (miamibeachfl.gov).