May 052017


Due to Monroe County’s efforts this past year in the voluntary Community Rating System (CRS), most of the nearly 15,000 National Flood Insurance Program policyholders in unincorporated Monroe County are expected to receive new premium discounts of 25 percent, beginning Oct. 1, 2017.

These new premium discounts will save policyholders in unincorporated Monroe County about $4.6 million a year – an average of $293 per policy.

This is an increase from the 20 percent premium discounts that Monroe County secured last year through the Community Rating System. The CRS is a voluntary incentive program that rewards communities that take actions – which exceed the minimum NFIP requirements – to protect people and property from flooding.

Property owners in the highest risk areas of flooding in unincorporated Monroe County, which account for about 96 percent of the policyholders, will receive the 25 percent discount. Some policyholders in the X zone will receive discounts of 10 percent. Policyholders who have preferred risk policies will not receive discounts because those policies already receive low rates.

The new insurance premium discounts will automatically be included on NFIP renewal and new policies, beginning Oct. 1, 2017. They will be listed as a “CRS” discount. Contact your insurance agent to learn specifics about your policy.

CRS officials sent Monroe County a letter in April that outlined the preliminary approved discount increase. The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency issue final acceptance.

The premium discounts are based on a complex formula that assigns points for 19 possible actions that reduce flood risk. The County, led by CRS expert Lori Lehr, increased its points this year to reach Level 5 by partnering with the municipalities of Marathon, Key West and Islamorada on a common Program for Public Information, which focuses on consistent messaging during storm events. (There are 9 levels in the CRS, with 1 being the best. Only five communities have reach Level 1 and its accompanying 45 percent discount).

A 13-person committee met for nearly a year to complete the Program for Public Information. Monroe County would like to thank the eight volunteer citizens who served as members: Alina Davis, Coldwell Banker; Brian Schmitt, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Co.; Jay W. Hall, BB&T; Mel Montagne, Keys Insurance Services; Melissa Grady, Centennial Bank; Michele White, Capital Bank; Mike Maurer, Fair Insurance Rates Monroe; and Rebecca Horan, Atlantic Pacific Insurance.

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has been extremely diligent in pursuing CRS program discounts to help offset rising insurance costs to Florida Keys residents and business owners. Only 5 percent of the 22,000 plus communities in the NFIP participate in the CRS.

The rising insurance costs are due in part to FEMA’s implementation last year of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, which includes gradual insurance premium rate increases to fund the repayment of the NFIP’s debt of about $25 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

The County now is working on several new programs to try to achieve a Class 4 rating (and a 30 percent discount) for 2018 or 2019. Only a few communities in Florida have achieved this level. New programs will include:

  • a Repetitive Loss Area Analysis;
  • a Watershed Masterplan to include sea level rise modeling to predict future stormwater facility and infrastructure failures to encourage re-engineering to maintain a resilient community;
  • development of a comprehensive Drainage Facility Maintenance Plan;
  • implementation of a requirement to elevate all new residential structures one foot above base flood elevation (currently being considered by the State of Florida as a mandatory requirement in the Florida Building Code).

Unincorporated Monroe County became eligible to rejoin the CRS in November 2015, when it became in complete compliance with the NFIP. The County had been working diligently for years to address decades-old, impermissible downstairs enclosures located in flood zones. This problem had led to the County’s ineligibility to continue participating in the federal discounts program.

This non-compliance issue, if not rectified, also would have led to Monroe County’s expulsion from the NFIP. Because federally backed mortgages require flood insurance for property in flood zones, property owners would then have to obtain insurance through a private firm. This has historically been difficult and far more expensive than NFIP policies.

The private group Fair Insurance Rates Monroe (FIRM) and the State Office of Floodplain Management in Tallahassee helped the County to navigate the NFIP issues and become eligible for the CRS program.

For more information about the NFIP’s CRS program, go to

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The Blue Paper thanks its many contributors.
 May 5, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am Issue #217, News, Public Notice  Add comments

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