TAMPA, Fla. — Prices around the country keep increasing, and in Florida FEMA officials say more pain could around the corner in the form of rising flood insurance premiums.
According to an estimation from FEMA that was released earlier this week, premiums for flood insurance are expected to increase by more than 100% throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
The intercoastal areas of Pinellas County near Treasure Island is a place homeowners consider their piece of paradise. At least that’s how Gail Wean sees it.
“You can go shopping within a 5-mile radius,” she said. “You can be out in the water within two minutes from your canal.”
It’s a dream that has come true for Wean, which is why she’s spent the last couple decades in this area.
Since she and her husband moved to Treasure Island though, she says there’s a price for that fulfilled dream.
“We live in a flood area,” Wean said. “I consider Florida a sand pit, so we have made the determination to live in this beautiful paradise. Someone has to pay for it.”
Wean has seen prices increase, which is why they weren’t entirely surprised to hear about those rising cost of flood insurance premiums.
“This is the price you have to pay to cover the value of your home and your boats and what have you,” Wean said.
It’s a sentiment shared by many of her neighbors.
In places like Tierra Verde, FEMA expects premiums to increase by more than 400%.
“One inch of water can cost $25,000 in property damage,” said Mark Friedlander, a Florida spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute.
According to Friedlander, those costs can be astronomically worse if a property owner isn't insured and something horrific happens during the next storm.
“You sort of have to weigh the risk against the cost,” he said.
To Friedlander, flooding can happen anywhere in the state so it’s important in his view to be on the safe side.
But some of those costs could price people out, which is a situation one person described in Treasure Island, saying if she paid for every single piece of insurance that was recommended, she would have to leave her home.
For Wean, the flood insurance situation isn’t political, it’s merely the evolution of costs for places that are right by the water where severe weather is annually inevitable.
“Somebody’s going to have to pay the piper,” she said.
Hillsborough County will also see premiums increase by more than 100% over the coming years, according to FEMA's estimation.
Some areas in the county, including Tierra Verde and homes near MacDill Air Force Base, are expected to see premiums skyrocket by more than 400%.