By Tim Pallesen

    Coastal homeowners are being urged to take individual action before their premiums for flood insurance skyrocket at the end of this year.
    “This is grim for some of you,” Beach Property Owners Association vice president Andy Katz advised residents at a BPOA forum on March 25. “You may have to claw and beg to maintain reasonable rates.”
    The rate hikes come as the Federal Emergency Management Agency updates its flood maps, moving many homeowners into higher-risk zones.
    Katz, who researched the rising rates with Conner Lynch of Plastridge Insurance, said increases of 300 to 400 percent will be common for many coastal homes. Lynch cited one oceanfront property owner in the highest-risk zone whose annual premium will jump from $400 to $8,000.
    Neither the city nor the BPOA will protest the changes on behalf of Delray homeowners. “You have to fight it lot-by-lot as individuals,” Katz stressed at the forum attended by 100 concerned residents.
    The new flood maps show that most homeowners to be paying higher rates live south of a high-elevation coastal ridge that extends north from Casuarina Road.
    The BPOA stressed that establishing a home’s elevation will be important in determining insurance premiums.
    The annual premium for the policy that covers $250,000 in property damage and $100,000 for contents will cost $1,594 for most homes built at the city’s current 7-foot required elevation. But the cost increases to $6,317 for older homes built at a 5-foot elevation before the first flood maps in 1979.
    Homeowners were urged to pay for a survey to obtain an elevation certificate that establishes a higher elevation if possible.
    The federal government requires flood insurance for all homeowners in a high-risk flood zone who have a mortgage. Insurance agents sell the policies at the same rates.
    To determine if your home will be in a high-risk zone starting on Dec. 16, see the flood maps online at: maps.co.palm-beach.fl.us/gis/floodzones.aspx.

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