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Raising the roof or raising the rates

The old curse says “May you live in interesting times,” seems to have been intended for residents and commercial business along the coast. So is seems to apply to Florida residents with all the more force. As weather or climate effects appear to be intensify the storms that batter the heavily populated Atlantic and Gulf coasts, issues involving residential and business litigation will continue to proliferate.

For homeowners, hurricane force winds, combined with a storm surge, can result in devastating damage. For businesses, it could drive you out of business. Given coastal Florida’s low elevation, significant storm surges, like those that arrived with Sandy in New York and New Jersey, could easily cause damage equal to the $40 billion in damage Sandy left behind.

In Connecticut, homes along the coast are being raised on stilts to take them above storm surge levels. One homeowner spent $300,000 to raise their $800,000 home 15 feet above the ground. The motivating force was new flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To remain in the federal flood insurance program, communities must adopt the new maps. Without placing if they had not placed their home on stilts, they would have seen their flood insurance premium increase to $5,500 per year, and some homeowners could see $25,000 per year rates.

These “interesting times” show no indication of lessening, and Florida residents and business should consider taking into account the literal impact of a severe Category 4 or 5 hurricane. While the last few years have been light on storms, another Andrew, Katrina or Sandy will come. It is just a matter of time.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Stilt Houses in Greenwich, Conn., Foreshadow Impact of New Flood Maps,” Bloomberg, Aug. 19, 2013

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