Parkland to help reduce flood insurance costs

With experts predicting a substantial increase in flood insurance premiums in the near future, Parkland is preparing to take part in a national program that offers residents discounts on flood insurance.

At a recent City Commission meeting, officials asked staff to take the necessary steps needed for the city to join FEMA’s Community Rating System, a component of the National Flood Insurance Program. All of the properties in the city are in one flood zone or the other, Chief Building Official Steve Pizzillo told officials.

As many as 46 municipalities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are already part of the system; three communities in the region — Miami-Dade County, Miami Lakes and North Miami — and 10 in the state have a CRS rating of five, which offers a 25-percent discount in insurance premiums to residents. The discounts rise depending on the measures taken by a community to prevent flooding.

“Flood insurance is going to go up,” Pizzillo said. “The average flood policy is around $600. Experts estimate that the average policy will go up two to three times. Typical of the government, they keep on putting off the date, but it is going to happen.”

The department would update the city’s existing flood plain map in the next few months, Pizzillo said. “In our existing map, everything west of University Drive was in the flood plain, and everything east of University Drive was not. Being added to the flood plain are the Ranches, Cypresshead, the Cays, Pine Tree South and North, and the Wedge.”

Eight percent of the parcels in the county and eight percent of the acreage have been added to the flood plain map. Thirty-four thousand parcels will need to buy flood insurance.

It is a 12- to 18-month process to join the system, Pizzillo said. “A lot of the things that we have to do, we already do. That helps us,” he said. “The only thing that we have to do is an informational campaign. Tamarac is spending $10,000 on an informational campaign.”

If flood insurance rates double and the city does enough for FEMA to rate it low enough for its residents to enjoy a 15-percent discount, it would result in a total savings of about $1 million, Pizzillo said. It would take time and substantial effort on part of the city for it to get a rating of five, which would give residents a 25-percent discount, he added.

Commissioner Mark Weissman wanted to know if the city would get extra points from the federal agency if it entered into agreements with homeowner associations to have the canals, lakes and drains cleaned periodically. He was in favor of a collective effort by all cities in the county to ensure substantial discounts for their residents.

“With the high cost of homeowner insurance and flood insurance, people are freaking out and getting nervous,” Commissioner Stacy Kagan said. “As the homes get older, the home insurance is going up. If they are not in a flood zone, they think they don’t need it and they don’t take it. If God forbid something happens, we are going to have a real problem. This is very significant.”

“Given that we live in Florida and where we are, I don’t think it makes sense to not be a part of this,” Vice Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said. “Even in Palm Beach County, 28 out of 30 cities are involved in this program. It is kind of a no-brainer to be involved in this.”

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