Florida Hill Country and the Cost of Flood Insurance
Because of a relatively new law passed by Congress, Floridians with federally-backed flood insurance policies have been facing major rate hikes. If you are considering buying a home in Florida, bear in mind that flood insurance could add hundreds to thousands of dollars to the annual cost of owning your home. You can enjoy all that Florida has to offer, without a high risk of catastrophic flood, by choosing an area that is a low risk for flooding, like the Villages of Citrus Hills.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, yet flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968 to help property owners financially protect themselves in the event of a flood. Today, properties located in areas at high risk of flooding are required by law to have flood insurance if the mortgage is held by a federally regulated or insured lender, which includes most banks.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the flood insurance program paid more for claims filed during that storm than for all other prior flood events combined and the National Flood Insurance Program went into debt. To get the flood insurance program back on track, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act in 2012. It requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies to make changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP must also raise flood insurance rates to reflect a true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and make changes to the Flood Insurance Rate Map.
The changes will have the greatest impact on properties located within a Special Flood Hazard Area that were built before the flood maps were drawn. These homes were previously “grandfathered” and had lower flood insurance rates, but under the new law, these special rates are going away. If you buy a home in a high-risk area, the flood insurance premiums could go from hundreds of dollars a year to many thousands.
Florida’s Congressional delegation has been working hard to fix the spikes in flood insurance because of fears it could slow down the state’s recovering economy. Not only are rising rates hitting Florida residents hard, but real estate agents worry it could affect property sales as well.
Most people move to Florida because of the beautiful, sunny weather, but the tropical storms and rainy season downpours also pose a risk, depending on where you live. Florida’s massive coastline and low-lying and flat landscape exacerbates the flooding risk. When the heavy rains come during the summer and fall, homes in city neighborhoods miles from the beach can be at risk of flooding. That’s probably why Florida is home to 37 percent of the nation’s flood insurance policies.
The Villages of Citrus Hills is located about 260 feet above sea level, one of the highest points in all of Florida. It is also about 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, close enough to enjoy the beach and boating, but far enough away to avoid the coastal flooding that can hit homes in beach-front communities. This elevation and location makes Citrus Hills less-risky in terms of flooding than other popular communities in Florida. The elevation and rolling hills also makes the Villages of Citrus Hills one of the more beautiful places in the state. Where else in Florida can you golf a hilly course in the morning and be at the beach in the afternoon?
No home is free of risk when it comes to the weather, but choosing a home in a location where the natural landscape and weather are less threatening, yet offers many of the same amenities you’d find elsewhere in Florida, is the wisest long-term choice. When it comes to lowering risk and saving homeowner costs, buying a home outside of a high-risk flood area is your best choice.