"Over the past 35 years, Florida's families have paid into the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) over $16 billion, four times more than the amount they have received in claim reimbursements. We have done more than our fair share to make the NFIP financially sound. In addition, Florida's superior coastal building code standards and leading efforts in the area of hurricane loss mitigation have further reduced exposure for the NFIP. Florida's rates should commensurately reflect these important risk-mitigating factors."
-Gov. Rick Scott in a letter to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio

In the news:

Keys faces increase in insurance rates again

BY TIMOTHY O'HARA Citizen Staff
Friday, July 01, 2016

The Florida Keys-based insurance watchdog group FIRM is gearing up for a fight with the insurance company that covers Monroe County, as the company is proposing another significant annual rate increase.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is proposing a nearly 9 percent increase for windstorm coverage in Monroe County, bringing the average premium from $3,706 a year to $4,033, according to a proposed rate increase the Citizens board of directors approved last week.

Citizens has significantly increased windstorm rates in the Keys since 2006.

Citizens, the insurer of last resort in the state, will now submit the proposal to the state Office of Insurance Regulation, which will review the proposal and make a decision in August.

Members of FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe) have been actively lobbying Citizens about lowering rates and FIRM board Vice President Steve Russ recently traveled to a hearing in Tallahassee to oppose the rate increase, Russ said.

Russ argued that Citizens models do not take in account that Monroe County has some of the strongest building codes in the state and there has not been a significant tropical storm or hurricane to brush the Keys in more than 10 years.

"From the very beginning, the homes in the Keys were built to withstand storms," Russ said.

FIRM plans to ramp up its efforts this summer to stop the rate increase. FIRM is currently working on a $485,000 study to determine if Citizens’ rates in the Keys are accurate. The FIRM board of directors hope that enough of the study will be complete by August to come up with a "counter proposal" that would call for a smaller increase or no increase at all, said Mel Montagne, FIRM board president.

FIRM has been working on the study, which Citizens agreed to fund, for several years.

Keys property owners have consistently been hit with windstorm rate increases from Citizens since 2006, when FIRM successfully lobbied state officials to deny Citizens request for an increase, which resulted in $75 million in savings to Keys residents since then, according to Montagne.

Last year, state regulators approved an 8.3 percent increase last year, 8.1 percent increase the previous year and a 10.5 percent increase two years ago.

During the roughly 10 year period of time, Citizens earned $585 million in revenue off Keys premiums, Montagne said.

Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier argued the rates are based on actuarially sound models.

"We owe that to all of our customers, not only in the Keys but across the state," Peltier said. "The increases are warranted. They are not to boost our profit margins."

FIRM Board of Directors

Join our Board

The Board of Directors of Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) is now accepting nominations of individuals interested in serving on its Board of Directors.

FIRM, a grassroots organization formed in February, 2006 is comprised of homeowners and residents who are united to fight against excessive, discriminatory and unaffordable residential, condominium and commercial property insurance rates. Additional information on FIRM membership and activities can be found at www.firmkeys.org.

This is a very dynamic Board with active Legislative, Fundraising, and Media/Communications committees. Responsibilities include monthly Board Meetings and energetic participation in committee work. Engineering, lodging, grant-writing, fundraising and homeowner/condo association are areas of experience that are particularly relevant to board make-up. Middle and Upper Keys residents are encouraged to submit their interest as meetings can be attended by teleconference.

We have a limited number of open seats. Please send letter of interest and resume to FIRM / 422 Fleming Street #5 / Key West, FL 33040 or electronically to firmkeys@gmail.com by Monday, May 2nd 5:00 pm.


FUNDRAISER SUCCESS

Key West Association of Realtors

FIRM thanks the members of the Key West Association of Realtors and their sponsors The Gardens Hotel, Centennial Bank, Keys Financial Corp. Key West Insurance, Inc., and Susie's Estate Sales for their outstanding support of FIRM at last month's KWAR Fundraiser. They raised just under $11,000! We are truly grateful to ALL of the realtors in Monroe County who help FIRM continue to fight for fair insurance rates for all of our citizens.

Golf Fundraiser

A BIG thanks to the Marathon and Lower Keys Association of Realtors for supporting FIRM once again at their golf tournament June 19 at the Key West Golf Club. We are also grateful for the continued support of Partner Level donor Isaksen Insurance. FIRM is able to continue working for fair insurance rates for the citizens of Monroe County thanks to the support of our members. Please call for additional information.

Hurricane Preparedness

Please review hurricane preparedness tips and information: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/hurricane_preparedness.html

Won’t you join them and donate to FIRM?


SUPPORTER FOCUS

Level 4 Membership: Engel & Volkers

Florida Keys – March 22, 2016 - A Big Thank You to Engel & Volkers Florida Keys for its recent donation. Support from businesses and residents enables FIRM to continue our efforts for fair flood and windstorm insurance rates.

Won’t you join them in their support?

Citizens to begin educating policyholders on critical upcoming contract changes

May 11, 2016 - Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has just released important policy changes for policyholders that will take effect on July 1,2016. Click HERE for the full press release which includes a link to additional information regarding the policy changes.
Please contact FIRM if you have additional questions or need further clarification regarding this press release.



FIRM PAC ENDORSEMENT

FIRM Supports State Legislation

February 20, 2016

FIRM commends State Senator Anitere Flores and State Representative Kathleen Passidomo for their leadership in sponsoring SB 1630 and HB 931 in this session of the Florida Legislature.

Full endorsement press release: HERE


FROM THE INSURANCE JOURNAL

FEMA Responds to Florida's
Flood Rate Request, Sort Of

February 18, 2016

After four months, FEMA responds to outgoing Florida Insurance Commissioner McCarty's request for information. But (from the report)....

"The response from FEMA, however, does not provide the rate information Florida lawmakers are looking for to ease the expense of the Florida flood insurance marketplace."

And this is why FIRM keeps working.

Full Insurance Journal report: HERE


FIRM PAC TAKING ACTION

Florida Keys Day 2016

February 16, 2016


FIRM is on the scene in Tallahassee representing our constituents at the Florida Legislature and at other government offices and activities.

Planning details here: HERE

Stay tuned for FIRM's report on this action.


NEWS MEDIA REPORT

Officials gather over flood insurance

February 13, 2016


FIRM Advisory Council member Monroe County Mayor Florida Association of Counties Federal Committee co-chair Heather Carruthers hosts an important Tallahassee discussions of National Flood Insurance Program rate practices.

Key West Citizen story: HERE


LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTION

Community Rating System Eligibility Approved

February 3, 2016

Good news from the City of Key West for the flood-insured.

And - as stated in this City press release -- "Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe ... will play a key role in crafting the best possible application for the community."

Full press release: HERE.


NEWS MEDIA REPORT

Insurance reform group seeks national commissioner search

January 23, 2016


FIRM has always respected the efforts and expertise of long-time Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

On his upcoming departure from that role, calls are being made for a careful non-political search for a successor.

Sun Sentinel story: HERE



EVENT REPORT

Seafood Festivities

January 20, 2016

(Click the pic for large view!)

Hope you made it to the Seafood Festival last weekend -- a great time was had by all! Especially our officers, directors and volunteers who were in the heart of the festival cooking and serving and raising funds for FIRM's work.

THANK YOU Centennial Bank for providing the food and "kitchen"!


UPCOMING EVENT

FIRM at the Key West Seafood Festival

January 8, 2016

FIRM will be on the scene at Key West's big Seafood Festival next weekend (January 16 and 17).

Look for us there! (And hey FIRM members -- we can use some help!)

Details here in THIS PDF.


NEW YEAR

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year!

January 1, 2016


OLDER NEWS

You'll find our older announcements and news
included within our IN THE NEWS Page: HERE.