- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

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By JEFF HARRINGTON,

c.2012 Tampa Bay Times@

President Obama is poised to sign a bill repealing many of the flood insurance rate hikes triggered by the much-maligned Biggert-Waters Act of 2012.

Bill backers hailed the measure, which caps annual increases for homeowners at 18 percent.

It’s a particularly welcome reprieve to those who bought flood-prone homes after July 6, 2012, unaware they stood to lose the subsidized rates entirely, costing them thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars more.

But the bipartisan deal didn’t fix everything for everyone.

1. Rates can

still rise … a lot

One of the biggest criticisms is that FEMA is pushing properties to a “full-risk” rate that’s too high. Even with an annual cap on rate increases, premiums are still moving to the point where the owners of a $200,000 home could end up paying more than $20,000 for flood insurance every year. FEMA has hired an outside firm to help it better determine the “actuarial soundness” of its rates as it remaps flood zones across the country.

2. Commercial properties still get hit

With the Biggert-Waters debate focused on homeowners, small businesses slammed by higher flood insurance rates have felt ignored. Unlike homeowners, owners of older, flood-prone commercial properties that have benefited from subsidized rates will not get a reprieve. In Pinellas County, some 1,400 business properties could be affected.

Sharp increases have forced commercial property owners to re-evaluate their business models, said Robin Sollie, president of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. Some are seeking new rate maps or mitigating against flood damage, which costs money.

3. No reprieve

for investors

Story Continues →