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One if by Land, Two if by Sea But What if the Land is by the Sea

Having made one public service announcement, I now write this article as another one. Having lunch with my friend, the crustaceous Eddie Rice from Panhandle Surveying, I learned that your flood insurance map is about to be a serious priority to homeowners and Realtors. Beginning May 15, 2017, the Flood Insurance Rate Map (called FIRM) will change for all of Northwest Florida. You can see the changes by going online to http://portal.nwfwmdfloodmaps.com/. Every Realtor and insurance agent should bookmark that address, and every property owner should know about it. All Okaloosa County property owners, but particularly those who own waterfront property in low areas, should note the May 15, 2017 deadline for filing appeals to the zone ratings shown on the map. Your future flood insurance premiums will be determined by your flood zone. Some are likely wrong.

Angela McDonald at Acentria Insurance in Destin has helped me work through the website. Waterfront property that did not have flood insurance because the previous FIRM did not require it, may need flood insurance under the new map.

Here is the key, and the purpose for this article: if you already have flood insurance beginning on the effective date of the map, your property qualifies for today’s rate even if the property changes owners, as long as the property remains insured continuously. An owner who can get flood insurance today should consider obtaining flood insurance even if his present mortgage doesn’t require it, in order to lock in today’s rate. That owner may one day want to sell, and today’s flood insurance rate will follow the property in the future if coverage is in place before the map’s effective date, and is continuous thereafter.

I have made several calls to get quotes on future rates. Insurance companies have told me that the increases could be substantial, but none of them knows yet what the rates will be.

Flood insurance becomes effective 30 days after it is written. There are people reading this article who should probably get flood insurance now if it is reasonably priced. You don’t have to renew that insurance if you learn that the prices after a new rate are manageable. Remember, the value of your property is seriously affected if a buyer cannot get a mortgage. The premium for flood insurance can make that mortgage unaffordable. If your property is in a flood hazard area, and much of the south-end of Okaloosa County is, by federal law no mortgage can be made without flood insurance.

The website presently says that you have until May 15, 2017 to file an appeal. You can look at your property to confirm both its present and proposed designations at the site, which, again, is http://portal.nwfwmdfloodmaps.com/.

Realtors and insurers can provide a valuable service by helping their clients make good decisions about flood insurance.

Mike Chesser

Board Certified Real Estate Attorney

Board Certified, Local Government Law

President, Old South Land Title, Inc.

President, Chesser & Barr, P.A.

1201 Eglin Parkway

Shalimar, FL 32579

# (850) 651-9944

mike@chesserbarr.com

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