Flood zone changes will raise some premiums

FEMA letters notifying homeowners of flood-zone changes


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the peak of hurricane season nears, the threat of flooding from slow-moving storms is a real possibility. So letters from the federal government telling residents that flood zones are changing are created by concern.

Many homeowners recently received letters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying that neighborhoods once considered at low risk for flooding could be at high risk has caught people off guard.

"We were kind of surprised by the letter," said homeowner Valerie Klacsmann.

State Farm agent Matt Carlucci says his insurance office has gotten numerous calls from clients asking about the letter and whether their flood zones have changed. He says it's all due to federal legislation that passed last year and went into effect in June, which requires expansion for flood insurance, mapping and grants.

Carlucci says the first thing to do is find out if your neighborhood's zone was switched. If it did, it could cost you hundreds of dollars.

"If you get this letter from FEMA and you have previously been in the low-risk area, and now you're in a high-risk area, your premium could go anywhere from $350 up to $800, $900, sometimes even more," Carlucci said.

Carlucci says he's seeing flood zone changes all over north Florida, especially in San Marco, San Jose and some St. Johns County neighborhoods.

Robert Howell was relieved to find out that his property wasn't changing to high-risk, but still doesn't agree with the changes.

"I think it's just another method of our federal government trying to obtain more money, and really, it's almost an indirect tax," Howell said.

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