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Tim Cranch

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Flood Insurance – FAQs about the Biggert – Waters Reform Act

Will every home in Florida be affected?

No, all newer (post-FIRM…….”FIRM” is Flood Insurance Rate Map) homes and primary pre-FIRM homes with coverage already in effect will not be affected by the changes. They will, however, be subject to any rate increase FEMA (“FEMA” is Federal Emergency Management Agency) decides to make across the board.

The groups that are most affected are Pre-FIRM homes where 1st floor elevation is below Base Flood Elevation and the policy is for:

  • New buyers of flood insurance (higher rates effective immediately)
  • Current flood insurance policies on non-primary homes (rates go up 25% per year until they reach the non-subsidized (full risk) premium)
  • Any home that was purchased after 7/06/12 would be subject to the full rate at the renewal anniversary date of the policy

Do you need a new Elevation Certificate for an affected home?

Not necessarily, however we recommend it. If there is an old Flood Elevation Certificate, it can be used to obtain a rate, but the information may not be accurate in some cases. If the homeowner does not have one, you can check with the community’s Flood Plain Management Department, it is possible they may have one on file. For all new real estate transactions, we recommend that either the seller or buyer to obtain a “new” elevation certificate for obtaining accurate flood quotes.

How long will it take to know what Flood Insurance will cost on a Pre-FIRM home?

As soon as we receive the Elevation Certificate and photos of the home, your insurance agent will submit them via email to the Flood Insurance carriers. Previously, the rating process took roughly 24 hours, but because the carriers are back logged with so many requests, it could be days or weeks until an answer back is received. Our suggestion is to confirm immediately if the home will fall into this scenario and get the information to an insurance agent as soon as possible. Many times you are working within a tight time frame of a contract contingency and we want you to have the flood rate sooner rather than later.

What about homes that  were located in Zone X, C, or D and changed to Zone AH? Isn’t the 2-year extension going to expire soon?

Those properties are insured with a Preferred Risk Policy Extension. FEMA removed the 2-year maximum extension time frame as of last January. However, BW-12 (the Biggert – Waters Reform Act) will implement an increase in premium for “extension” qualified homes. Premiums for these homes will cost more than a home that is located in Zone X, C, or D. We recommend affected homeowners obtain an Elevation Certificate as their home could be at a high enough elevation to warrant writing a Standard Flood Policy rather than continuing with the extension policy which is subject to rate increases.

What steps should be taken when listing a Pre-FIRM home for sale or when you are considering buying one?

  • Determine the actual Flood Zone (online, ask an insurance agent to run it for you, or call the community’s Flood Plain Management Department).
  • If the home is located in Zones AE or VE you will need a Flood Elevation Certificate. Find out if the seller has one or if one is on file with the City/County, etc. Otherwise, order one through a Land Surveyor at a typical cost of $150.
  • Request a quote for Flood Insurance through an Insurance Agent.


Feel free to call Ron Lazarto directly at (239) 435-7159 or email at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulf Shore Insurance For More Information on flood zones and specific properties, you can call directly the phone numbers below:

City of Naples



Unincorporated Collier County (including Marco Island)



Lee County