"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


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"!


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.


Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year!

January 1, 2016


Merry Christmas

December 25, 2015


Wrapping Up Presents and the End of the Year at FIRM

December 20, 2015

As we proceed into the holidays, please check out this end-of-the-year holiday letter from FIRM.


First State Bank secures
Level 6 FIRM Membership

December 15, 2015

The Executive Board and Board of Directors of FIRM would like to take this opportunity to graciously thank, Karen Sharp and First State Bank of the Florida Keys for their generous membership donation to FIRM Karen Sharp and First State Bank presented FIRM with their donation check at its last board meeting in November.

With donations like this from First State Bank, from private donations, and from other businesses, FIRM is able to continue our fight for fair insurance rates for everyone in the Florida Keys.

You too can become a member, HERE.

1st row: FIRM president Mel Montagne, First State Bank-CEO and President Karen Sharp, FIRM board member Michael Kiraly
2nd row: FIRM board members Bob Maynard, Carol Schreck, Mike Maurer, Michael Larson, Lee Cummings and Joe Walsh.


Welcome Caroline Horn

December 6, 2015

Meet FIRM's new Administrator!

Caroline Horn comes to FIRM with a background in advocacy, fundraising, volunteerism and professional administration. (Details on our Board & Staff page.)

Feel free to call on Caroline anytime you wish to make contact with us. We welcome her onto the FIRM Team and look forward to her contributions to our efforts!


Holidays are coming...
...but NOT for FIRM!

November 22, 2015

Please review this this timely and
important letter
from FIRM.


Mangia Mangia dinner was a great date!

November 14, 2015

The Executive Board and Board of Directors of FIRM would like to take this opportunity to graciously thank owners Mike and Heather Barnes for their donation from Mangia Mangia.

Mangia Mangia donated 25 percent of dinner proceeds from its September fundraising event to FIRM. With the generosity of businesses and private donations to FIRM, we can continue our fight for fair insurance rates in the Florida Keys.

Pictured is Heather Barnes, her children, and FIRM vice-president Steve Russ receiving the check from Mangia Mangia.

Anyone wishing to donate to FIRM can do so: HERE.


FIRM is looking for
an Administrator

Novermber 6, 2015

FIRM is seeking a motivated experienced administrator to staff our office and perform duties as documented: HERE.

This is an immediate need.


Wilma, Citizens, Flooding and FIRM

October 29, 2015

This week marks 10 years since the recovery from Hurricane Wilma began in earnest. Costs during Wilma's aftermath -- combined with that of other storms during the preceding 14 months -- directly drove major increases in Citizens windstorm rates. And those increases directly lead to the founding of FIRM during 2006. We've been fighting for fairness ever since.

Though Wilma's impact on the Yucatan and the Florida mainland was massive, it was not a major "wind event" here. This 25 minute video tells the story of the catastrophic storm surges that devastated the Keys. It shows FIRST HAND how important it is to be prepared for flooding and following evacuation orders -- especially for non-elevated homes at low elevations.


Level 6 Membership:
Betty Metz Rubenstein

October 21, 2015

FIRM is eternally grateful to Betty Metz Rubenstein. She has recognized FIRM's value to us all in the Keys by stepping up to become a LEVEL 6 member of FIRM. We cannot continue our fight for FAIR insurance rates without such support.

Won't you join her?


"FIRM fights to keep
insurance rates lower"

September 30, 2015

The Key West Citizen recently ran a Citizen's Voice comment questioning FIRM's vitality. To clear the air, FIRM President Mel Montagne has responded with a Letter to the Editor refuting the negative assertions that were made.

(If that link doesn't show you the letter, a PDF copy of the letter is: HERE.



September 26, 2015

Just join us for dinner any time Tuesday evening (9/29) -- and, order whatever you wish from Mangia Mangia's wonderful menu at their regular prices.

When you do, Mangia Mangia donates 25% of ALL food and alcohol purchases to FAIR INSURANCE RATES IN MONROE. Is there a more delicious way to contribute to FIRM anywhere?

Restaurant reservations and information: 305-294-2469.

FIRM representatives will be available throughout the evening to fill you in on FIRM's status on all aspects of our mission and answer any questions you may have.

Check into this event on Facebook: HERE.


FIRM welcomes Isaksen as Partner

September 21, 2015

BIG BIG Welcome to FIRM's latest member at the PARTNER level (our biggest supporters):
Isaksen Insurance, Inc. of Big Pine Key.

They have seen how important our mission is and have stepped up to helping us to continue it.


FIRM Testifies on
Windstorm Insurance Rates

September 18, 2015

FIRM continues to actively fight for Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe.

Recently FIRM President Mel Montagne and FIRM Consultant Annalise Mannix spent time in Tallahassee before the Office of Insurance Regulation challenging CITIZENS rate hikes.

Full details, including links to testimony video and the materials that were presented, are: HERE.


Florida Keys Contractors Assoication renews backing

September 5, 2015

Local Keys Businesses support our efforts toward fair insurance rates.

We'd like to highlight the ongoing support of the Florida Keys Contractors Association (FKCA). They have now renewed their Level 6 membership with another generous donation. We are most grateful for their aid to our mission.

The FKCA's continuing support helps keep YOUR rates down. THANKS!

Members of FKCA present check to FIRM Board member Theresa Faber


FIRM Senior Advisor Heather Carruthers: Reforming National Flood Insurance

August 29, 2015

Heather spoke with US1 Radio's Bill Becker on Friday's Morning Magazine show. She discussed county storm preparation, and important news about her involvement in a national effort to reform the NFIP flood insurance program. Give it a listen....


"Citizens could hit Keys with big hike"

August 27, 2015

The Keynoter reports on hearings for the proposed Citizens windstorm insurance rate hikes, where FIRM made presentations this week.

"Every year we see the same thing. We've been overcharged since Day 1," Mel Montagne, chairman of the Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe group, said."

Full article here.


"The Danger of Hurricane Complacency"

August 25, 2015

Local National Public Radio station WLRN provides sage advice.

Yes, it's been 10 years. Yes, the storms this season seem to be avoiding the Keys (so far). However as they say: "It only takes one". BE PREPARED. Be insured. Stay aware!


Mangia Mangia dinner next month = FIRM Aid

August 17, 2015

As it says on the "movie" poster....
"Tuesday Evening (5:30 - 9:00 pm) on September 29, 2015
Mangia Mangia Restaurant (900 Southard St)
donates 25% of ALL food and alcohol purchases
Restaurant reservations and information: 305-294-2469


Florida's State Emergency Response Team

August 12, 2015

After the storm, the State Emergency Response Team (SERT ) ensures communication with local authorities, coordinates state response efforts, and facilitates federal disaster recovery funding for individuals and governments.



"Florida leads nation in property
at risk from climate change"

August 6, 2015

Check out the news story in the Miami Herald. Shows that Climate Change directly affects our insurance rates.


Welcome to our new FIRM Board members

July 31, 2015

FIRM has selected 6 new Directors to replace those who have moved along from our Board of Directors, and to add coverage for under-represented areas of FIRM's mission. We are proud to introduce the new members....

Upper row: Michael Larson, Armand Messina and Clara Werner
Lower row: Kris Gustinger, Mike Maurer and Bob Maynard

Director Steve Russ was elected to fill the Vice President role left vacant by Heather Carruthers' departure from the Board.

Director Joe Walsh was also elected to fill the role of Treasurer, on the departure of former Director Phil Wilson.

Background information on all of the directors is on our website HERE.


FIRM endorses 2015 Flood Insurance Acts

July 28, 2015



Heather Carruthers moves to FIRM Advisory Council

July 22, 2015

Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) announces that effective July 2015, President and Vice President, and long-time member, Heather Carruthers, will be moving from her position on the FIRM Board of Directors into a leading role on FIRM's Advisory Council, focusing on FIRM's legislative efforts and, from time to time, on other special projects.

Throughout her tenure serving as President and Vice-President, Heather has served as a tireless advocate for Monroe County. She was instrumental in the creation and founding of FIRM, and helped to steer the organization from its creation in a Key West backyard to the advocate juggernaut that it is today. Heather helped FIRM to forge numerous key relationships in the public and private sectors, to expand the reach and influence of FIRM, and to create a rich and effective board that powers the organization. Heather embodies the spirit and drive upon which FIRM was founded.

FIRM is committed to its mission and vision and will continue to work tirelessly for the residents and business community of Monroe County.

(PDF of this announcement available: HERE.)


Dinner at Mangia Mangia pays off

July 17, 2015

As it says on the "movie" poster....
"Tuesday Evening (5:30 - 9:00 pm) on September 29, 2015
Mangia Mangia Restaurant (900 SouthardSt)
donates 25% of ALLl food and alcohol purchasses
Restaurant reservations and information: 305-294-2469


CITIZENS "depopulation" confirmed --
  We offer suggestions and options

July 10, 2015

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has approved the removal of up to 80,000 personal residential policies and 1,050 commercial residential polices from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. See THIS PRESS RELEASE for information about the companies involved.

If you end up being affected by this, we have some very important guidance for you. HERE IS OUR GUIDANCE IF AFFECTED: CLICK.


CITIZENS Insurance a subsidy for The Rich?

July 3, 2015

Insurance blog "Right Street" has made an outlandish claim that Citizens Insurance and FEMA policies are "Subsidies for The Rich". Please see and pass along FIRM's rebuttal, from HERE.

(Links to original blog post are within the rebuttal document.)


Reps. Curbelo & Murphy Introduce
Flood Insurance Fairness Act of 2015

June 29, 2015

FIRM recognizes the submission to the 114th Session of the US Congress this bill -- H.R.2918 -- to expand Flood Insurance rate relief to rental housing (as described in the Congressman's press release, HERE).

You can track the progress of this bill HERE.


CITIZENS Board of Governors request windstorm rate increases

June 27, 2015

As recently reported in the newspaper and elsewhere, the CITIZENS Insurance Board of Governors are going to again ask for rate increases from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

CITIZENS gives us their logic in this Letter.

FIRM continues to press for reconsideration of the rates that CITIZENS requests, and is seeking to prove that their actuaries are using faulty data in setting these rates. Stay tuned for further details of FIRM's strategic plans to deal with this matter.


Federal agencies to REQUIRE escrow of flood insurance premiums

June 26, 2015

Federal Agencies will REQUIRE that Flood Insurance premiums be escrowed beginning next year!
But at least they won't require inclusion of your shed or other out-buildings on your policy anymore (in most cases).

DETAILS in this PDF.


CITIZENS is "depopulating" --
  Here are our suggested considerations

June 25, 2015

Nowadays, there's a good chance that CITIZENS Insurance may not WANT you, and will send you mail telling you so...

If that day comes for you, we have some very important considerations -- and options -- for you.

DETAILS in this PDF.


Avoid overcharges on the new flood insurance surcharge

June 24, 2015

Have you verified your FEMA FLOOD INSURANCE status, lately? If not, you must do so before your next renewal or you may be overcharged!

As of April 1, 2015, if you have a FEMA flood policy, you will now be assessed either a $25.00 or $250.00 surcharge, based on the use of the insured building.

DETAILS in this PDF.


An Important Letter from Mel Montagne, President of FIRM

June 20, 2015

Please review this important letter from FIRM.

(Active links within the letter will take you to a great deal of backing material, if you are interested in following up on what you read there.)


Key West a victim of FEMA discrimination?

June 15, 2015

Local "KONK Life" news is reporting on Key West problems with FEMA community certification. The article quotes Ron Wampler, head of the city's building department, as having his own theory why:

"Currently, FEMA is running a deficit because insured storm claim payouts have cost more than the amount collected from NFIP policyholder premiums and investment income. That deficit currently totals $23 billion. Any discount granted to Key West or other municipalities is money right out of FEMA's pocket."

"FEMA is heavily in debt to the federal government. And the federal government isn't going to give that up. I see this as their tactic to deny us entering the CRS program because it will enable us to get substantial insurance discounts."


Citizens Completes Financial Preparations for 2015 Hurricane Season

June 5, 2015

Read the Citizens press release: HERE


The FEMA App

May 28, 2015

Though storm season officially begins on Monday, there are LOTS of people already dealing with vicious storms. FEMA now has an app to help you prepare for and react to one near YOU. Be prepared!

Select the one for YOUR phone:
-- The iPhone app
-- The Android app


FIRM VP Heather Carruthers: RIPP status update

May 23, 2015

Heather spoke with US1 Radio's Ezra Marcus on Friday's Morning Magazine show, providing an upbeat report on the current status of our Reduce Insurance Premiums Project. Give it a listen....


City of Key West Donates
$20,000 to FIRM

May 21, 2015

Tremendous appreciative accolades to the City of Key West for their recognition of the value to the citizenry realized by FIRM's work. The contribution granted by the Commisioners was most judicious and generous. Full details are: HERE.

Front row (l to r): FIRM President Mel Montagne and Key West City Manager Jim Scholl. Second row: County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, Robert Gold, Kate DeLoach. Back row: Theresa Faber, Carol Schreck, Lee Cummings, Laura Burchard


Two weeks to official start of Storm Season

May 15, 2015

FEMA's "Ready" site provides a compehensive look at hurricanes and how to prepare to deal with them....


FIRM Seeks Board Nominations

May 2, 2015

FIRM is seeking Board members -- deadline for nominations is just 2 weeks away (May 15). Join us! DETAILS in this PDF.


Citizens Ends "1 in 100" Assessment Risk Surcharge

May 1, 2015

Though we've recently seen FLOOD insurance surcharges imposed by FEMA, at least we can now look forward to removal of the Citizens Insurance "Once in a hundred years storm" WINDSTORM surcharges from our Florida insurance bills.

Read the Citizens press release: HERE


Cow Key Channel Bridge Run

April 29, 2015

A big Thank You to David Sloan and the Cow Key Channel Bridge Run for their recognition of FIRM as an honorary sponsor of their 2nd annual "run" -- "The only Zero K Bridge Run. Anywhere".

A lot of fun was had by all who participated!


Citizens plans to issue up to $1 Billion in new bonds

April 27, 2015

Good to see Citizens getting their house in order -- good time for them to take a serious look at reducing the subsidy that the Keys policy-holders (who pay much much more into the pool than they ever extract) provides to the rest of the state. FIRM will continue to work toward that goal. (Click the pic for "Property Casualty 360" news report.)


Former Florida Consumer Advocate lauds FIRM

April 22, 2015

At last month's FIRM final annual meeting in Key West, Sean Shaw -- Florida's former State Consumer Advocate on Insurance Issues -- spoke to us and proceeded to give FIRM a rousing testimonial within his discussion of consumer issues. Click this pic to watch. (After the video loads, double-click on it for full screen.)

(This video may not work for you other than on Internet Explorer.)


FIRM Prez meets with Chamber

April 16, 2015

Attention membership of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce... Don't miss next Tuesday's luncheon at NOON. Our President -- Mel Montagne -- will be there to fill you in on the latest Windstorm and Flood insurance issues. See you there!


Golf Tournament to benefit FIRM

April 12, 2015

The FIRM Marathon and Lower Keys Association of Realtors will be holding a golf tournament to benefit FIRM on JUNE 28! Full Details -- and a registration form -- in THIS PDF.


Reece & Associates Contribution

April 7, 2015

FIRM is deeply grateful for a generous donation to our continuing mission by local surveying firm Reece & Associates!

Won't you or your business join them? ...We'll ALL benefit!

Check out our donation pages!


FIRM contingent invades Tallahassee

April 1, 2015

FIRM has been well represented this week during Florida Keys Day (actually "Days") with our State Legislature in Tallahassee. We have been representing all of the insured and need-to-be-insured home and business owners of Monroe in numerous meetings with many legislators and agencies. Full report coming soon....

Local Coverage

KeyNoter: Flood insurance
rates rising again

March 25, 2015

FIRM President Mel Montague contrinbutes to THIS STORY run by the Florida Keys Keynoter today, reporting on the National Flood Insurance increases that we have receently warned our membership about.



March 18, 2015

Looking to make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE contribution toward FIRM's mission to bring down and limit windstorm and flood insurance rates in Monroe County? Previously -- by law -- we were not a deductible donation, due to our lobbying mission.

However since we are also so much more that just a "lobbying group", we've separated our lobbying efforts from the rest of our mission and spun off a team that you can support and get a tax break while you're at it. We are now two teams: "FIRMkeys" and "FIRM PAC".

A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


New Flood Insurance Surcharge hits
on April 1

March 14, 2015

This is not an April Fools joke.... There WILL be a new surcharge -- up to $250 -- on your flood insurance, effective April 1st.

Details in THIS PDF.

FIRM continues to stay abreast of this and is incorporating strategies to deal with it into our mission. Stay tuned...


Key West Association of REALTORS President talks FIRM with Bill Becker

March 10, 2015

KWAR President Terri Wilson spoke with US1 Radio's Bill Becker today on his Morning Magazine show. Between them they had a lot of good things to say about FIRM and our mission. She also reiterated KWAR's support for FIRM, including their large recent donation and another PAC donation soon to come. We are grateful for that support, as should be all residents (homeonwers and renters alike) of MOnroe County.

if you missed it, check it out here...


Cudjoe Gardens Property Owners Assocation latest to step up to the challenge

March 5, 2015

FIRM is always grateful to receive community support for its mission. Recently the generous members of the Cudjoe Gardens Property Owners Association stepped up to grant us a significant contribution to the cause. A big THANK YOU to President Larry Francisco -- and the entire organization -- for the substantial donation!


Our FINAL 2015 Annual Meeting - ALL invited

March 3, 2015

Tonight (Tuesday March 3) is your last best chance to catch up with what FIRM is doing for you, to tell FIRM what you want it to do and even to give some DIRECT feedback to the CITIZENS' Consumer Services chief! Drop by on the way home from work at 5:30 pm, at the Harvey Government Center.

A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


FIRM VP Heather Carruthers gives the low-down, on Evening Edition

February 28, 2015

Heather spoke with US1 Radio's Ezra Marcus on yesterday's Evening Edition show, covering the topics to be covered at next Tuesday (March 3)'s public meeting. She also talks about the guests (e.g., from CITIZENS) who will be present to get YOUR feedback.

Get the detailed announcement for the meeting HERE.


Surviving Wind and Flood (Insurance in Monroe County)

February 24, 2015

FIRM ANNUAL MEETING -- ALL INVITED! Your last chance for a FIRM annual meeting this year -- this one is in Key West, next Tuesday, March 3 at 5:30pm. It's at the Harvey Government Center.

A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


Key West REALTORS continue support for FIRM's mission

February 20, 2015

Once again Key West Realtors have stepped up to support FIRM's efforts to bring us all fair insurance rates. The recent fund-raiser presented by the Key West Association of REALTORS and hosted by the Gardens Hotel has generated a big contribution to the cause! We are grateful to all of these generous Realtors and Realty organizations.


All invited to a FIRM Annual Meeting

February 15, 2015

Whether you're a member or not, come to our ANNUAL MEETING...
...at a Key near you!

CITIZENS Property Insurance Corp's Chief of Consumer and Agent Services Steve Bitar will participate in the meeting.

A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


All invited to a FIRM Annual Meeting

February 10, 2015

Whether you're a member or not, come to our ANNUAL MEETING -- at a Key near you! THIS WEDNESDAY WE ARE IN THE LOWER KEYS.
A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


Key West Association of Realtors steps up

February 8, 2015

Be there or be square!


FIRM Invites Keys Residents to Annual Meetings

January 28, 2015

Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) invites all residents of Monroe County to its series of Annual Meetings, to be held in four convenient locations from Key Largo to Key West....
A PDF holding the full announcement can be viewed HERE.


FIRM's Annual Meeting Is Near

January 24, 2015

Coming to a Key near you!

Watch for full details coming shortly, but here are the FOUR dates for different parts of the Keys. Mark your calendar NOW. See you there!

Marathon (Middle Keys)
Tuesday Feb 3 at 5:30pm to 7:00
Marathon Gov. Center, BOCC Chambers

Ramrod (Lower Keys)
Wednesday Feb 11 at Noon to 1:30pm
Boondocks Grill (MM 27.5)

Key Largo (Upper Keys)
Tuesday Feb 17 at 5:30pm to 7:00
Murry Nelson Gov. Center, BOCC Chambers

Key West (End of the road)
Tuesday March 3 at 5:30pm to 7:00
Harvey Gov. Center, BOCC Chambers


Representative Raschein and FIRM urge Governor to Reappoint Insurance Commissioner McCarty

January 23, 2015

Yesterday, State House Representative Holly Raschein expressed her support on US1 Radio for the reappointment of Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty (lListen in via the attached clip.)

FIRM strongly supports reappointment of Commissioner McCarty. We have contacted the Governor's office to express our position, as detailed HERE [PDF].


FIRM Presents RIPP Status Report to Monroe County BOCC

January 22, 2015

Yesterday FIRM President Mel Montagne presented a full progress report on our Reduce Insurance Premiums Project to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners. YOU CAN WATCH THAT PRESENTATION, TOO (it's just over 20 minutes long) -- just click the picture below....


Monroe County Commissioners call on Governor to Reappoint Insurance Commissioner

January 21, 2015

This afternoon, the Monroe County BOCC officially approved resolution

Full resolution (in PDF form): HERE

FIRM concurs with this position, and will be issuiing its own recommendation.


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