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Date of Issue: November 29, 2007

North end property owners save on flood insurance

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All three of the island's cities participate in the voluntary community rating system, a part of the federal flood insurance program. But only Anna Maria City has achieved enough points to qualify for the Class 5 rating, a 25 percent premium discount for property owners.

It’s official.

The federal government has sent a letter to Anna Maria City confirming it has advanced to Class 5 in the community rating program for the National Flood Insurance Program.

That’s good news for property owners in Anna Maria City, who should now receive up to a 25 percent discount on premiums - 10 percent more than in the past - for new and renewed flood insurance policies issued on or after Oct. 1.

Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach property owners remain in Class 7 with a 15 percent discount on flood insurance premiums.

“Of course, we are very pleased,” said Anna Maria Commissioner John Quam, who chairs the city commission..

Quam said the Class 5 rating translates to an annual savings of about $251,000 in flood insurance premiums for the city’s residential and business property owners.

Actual savings for individuals will vary, depending on the amount of flood insurance coverage purchased, among other variables. But an Anna Maria property owner who has been paying $1,000 a year for flood coverage could reasonably expect to get a discount of about $250, thanks to the new rating.

Quam said Anna Maria’s city administration has been “diligently working” for the past two years to improve its classification in the federal community rating system.

Participation in the federal government’s community rating system is voluntary. It’s up to each city to decide to participate and then take the steps to acquire points by reducing flood risks. To determine a city’s classification and premium discount, federal officials perform regular audits of the reports submitted by the city.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, oversees the national flood insurance program and the community rating system, which was devised to provide incentives for communities to go beyond minimum floodplain management requirements.

The city of Anna Maria has participated in the community rating system since 1991.

In his letter to the city, FEMA assistant mitigation administrator David I. Maurstad began with “Congratulations!”

“This savings is a tangible result of the flood mitigation activities your community implemented to protect lives and reduce property damage,” Maurstad said. In closing, he recommended that “your community add new activities annually in order to obtain a better community rating system classification.” He said each improvement in a rating class “results in greater flood insurance premium savings and brings your community closer to being disaster resistant.”

The FEMA rating program has 10 classifications for cities. The lowest rating is Class 10, which offers no discount. The highest rating is Class 1, which provides a 45 percent discount. 

Although these discounts appear to apply to most property owners, the FEMA materials suggest that there are some exceptions. Individual policyholders may want to check with their insurance agent to find out the precise discount now available for his/her property.

Quam said Anna Maria began working more than two years ago to improve its classification. He said the city created a flood mitigation committee to review its flood management plan. The commission also approved a resolution last year on flood prevention.

“The city staff was key in getting this classification increased,” Quam said.

He also gave credit to the city’s previous administration, including its former building official, Kevin Donohue, who helped identify and implement steps the city could take to reduce flood risks. Donohue has since left the city for private employment.

More information about the city’s flood control program can be found on the Internet at www.cityofannamaria.com/files/flood-preparedness-2007.pdf.

For more information about the community rating system, go to www.fema.gov/business/nfip/crs.shtm.

The challenge for Anna Maria City now, Quam said, is to retain its new Class 5 rating and try to achieve an even better rating with bigger premium discounts.

“This is an ongoing project that you have to keep up with or you don’t retain your classification,” Quam said.

He said the city would rely on its consultant, planner Steve Gilbert, for continued progress. Gilbert, a certified building official, has been under contract with the city since July.

Gilbert, who also does consulting for the city of Bradenton Beach, is employed by M.T. Causey Inc., a Homestead-based firm that employs more than 100 people and specializes in construction inspections, testing and consulting.

Bradenton Beach is now in Class 7, with a 15 percent premium discount. But thanks to steps taken by the city over the past year, according to Gilbert, Bradenton Beach has been approved to move into Class 6, and in May 2008 will be eligible for a 20 percent premium discount.

Holmes Beach property owners, who now receive a 15 percent discount on flood insurance premiums, are not scheduled at this time to receive any additional relief. City officials have said they are working to obtain additional points for flood management and that could lead to a better rating and lower premiums.