"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

FIRM OUTREACH

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!


SAVE THE DATE

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.


LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORT

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!


ON THE JOB

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.


ANNOUNCEMENT

FIRM ANNOUNCES SISTER ORGANIZATION

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.


HEADS UP!

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...


ON THE AIR

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...



COMMUNITY SUPPORT

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!



REMINDER

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.


ON THE AIR

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.


ANNOUNCEMENT

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.



COMMUNITY SUPPORT

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.



ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

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!
THIS TUESDAY WE ARE IN THE UPPER KEYS..

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.


OPPORTUNITY

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.


COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Key West Association of Realtors steps up

February 8, 2015

Be there or be square!


OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

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.


ANNOUNCEMENT

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


EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT

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].


ACCOUNTABILITY

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....



LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTION

Monroe County Commissioners call on Governor to Reappoint Insurance Commissioner

January 21, 2015

This afternoon, the Monroe County BOCC officially approved resolution

"A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MONROE COUNTY, FLORIDA, IN SUPPORT OF THE REAPPOINTMENT OF FLORIDA COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE REGULATION, KEVIN MCCARTY".
Full resolution (in PDF form): HERE

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


FROM US TO YOU

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Decenber 31, 2014

Wishing everyone a great new year -- hopefully with tropical weather as uneventful as 2014! Look to FIRM in the year ahead for exciting new ventures that will bring you even more dividends for the support you've given...


FROM US TO YOU

SEASON's GREETINGS!

Decenber 20, 2014

We at FIRM wish EVERYONE in the Keys a great and joyous HOLIDAY (the much nicer "H" word) SEASON. As our RIPP (Reduce Insurance Premiums Project) moves into the data analysis phase, we feel certain that lower windstorm rates are on their way. With YOUR help, we'll all get a great present.


INSURANCE NEWS

"Citizensí Takeout Program Undergoing Changes; Says Assessments Unlikely"

Decenber 12, 2014

Citizens' "takeout" program, which provides a path for independent insurers to take over servicing of policies currently held by Citizens, doesn't really apply in the Keys. This is because -- at least for now -- nobody except Citizens will insure us. However through the rest of the state about half of the Citizens policies have been shed to other companies, bringing down the catastrophic exposure.

With that reduced risk and growing reserves, there should be no extra assessment on next year's insurance bills. This and further details -- including discussion of DISSATISFACTION with the "takeout" program -- can be found is this Insurance Journal article.


CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SUPPORT

Florida Keys Contractors Assoication backs FIRM's efforts

Decenber 8, 2014

Keys local businesses continue to come to the aid of FIRM in our quest to prove to insurance agencies and underwriters that the models they use are not representative of true Keys risk. And now the Florida Keys Contractors Association has stepped up to the plate to help us move forward toward our goals. We are greatly appreciative of their generous donation to the cause!


Members of FKCA present check to FIRM Board member Theresa Faber

LOCAL NEWS COVERAGE

"Grassroots Keys insurance
reform group closer to goal"

November 29, 2014

More local coverage HERE in the KeyNoter newsaper for our Reduce Insurance Premiums Project (RIPP). We're now sitting at 99.9% but still MUST get those last few within specific "stata" to make the study statistically sound.

Lots of volunteers within filled strata have been turned away, but with grateful appreciation for their helpful intentions, of course! But we still need those last few (within those other strata)...

    Click here for more on the Reduce Insurance Premiums Project.


LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORT

Key West Resorts come through

November 26, 2014

The Ocean Key Resort and Spa and the Best Western Key Ambassador understand the importance of Fair Insurance Rates for us all, and are stepping up to help FIRM on its mission. We'd like to highlight these benefactors for pitching in. We are grateful for their support!




MEDIA COVERAGE

RIPP again featured in local newspaper

November 21, 2014

This week the Key West Citizen reported on how close FIRM is getting toward completing the "inspections" stage of the Reduce Insurance Premiums Project, but how we are still looking to fill those final few spots within the various "strata" that makes it one of the most comprehensive windstorm rate studies ever conducted. Click this pic to read it (or click HERE).

Just since running the story, we have already filled several more slots - but we're not quite there -- PLEASE let us know if you can help, and we'll see if your "stratum" is not yet filled.


PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Business and Professional Women Marathon pitch in for the RIPP

November 19, 2014

The Business and Professional Women Marathon organization recognizes the importance of FIRM's work to keep the Keys a place we can afford to live in. To support fairness in our insurance rates and especially to support FIRM's Reduce Insurance Premiums Project they have presented a generous donation to the cause. We are grateful for their support!


Women of BPW Marathon present check to FIRM Board member Mike Kraly

RIPP OUTREACH

Monroe Commissioner (FIRM VP) Carruthers radio update on RIPP

November 17, 2014

Today, Monroe County Commissioner (and FIRM Vice-President) Heather Carruthers spoke with Bill Becker on US1 Radio's Morning Magazine, giving an update on FIRM's Reduce Insurance Premiums Project (RIPP).

She clarified points made in the Progress Report, and stressed how important it is to fill in those last few gaps ("strata") in the home categories to complete the study. Be sure to volunteer YOURS now if you've been putting it off....


STATUS REPORT

Significant Progress on FIRM's
Reduce Insurance Premiums Project

November 13, 2014

We are pleased to announce significant progress in our comprehensive analysis of windstorm risk in Monroe County. The RIPP (Reduce Insurance Premiums Project) study involves the inspection of a statiscally established target number of 704 homes from Key West to Key Largo. To date, nearly 500 homes have been inspected, and another 170 homes have been volunteered for inspection.

Read the report: HERE

Please help us to sign up those last few required volunteers to achieve a statistically valid study result. Whether you have received our postcard (pictured) or not, get in touch with us to find out if your home is still needed for the study!


Click the pic for a larger PDF of the card that shows both sides.


NEW TOOL

It's all in the SLOSH MOM...

November 10, 2014

"S L O S H" = "Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes"

"M O M" = "Maximum of Maximums"

The SLOSH MOM tool linked from the pic (or from here) provides you with a mapping tool (similar to Google Maps) from the National Weather Service. It'll show the worst-case storm surge conditions on the resulting map - under each of the 5 Categories of Hurricane intensity.

Just scroll to the Island or other area you care about, and zoom in. (But not too much, it can't show details at a street-level zoom.) Then change categories to see how bad it can be....

Also see this article for more information about the tool: HERE.


GRATITUDE

Building Height Referendum tally

November 5, 2014



YOUR VOTE NEEDED

Commissioner Carruthers explains importance of Building Height Referendum

October 28, 2014

This week, Monroe County Commissioner (and FIRM Vice-President) Heather Carruthers again went to the voters with the full story on the importance of a YES vote on Key West's referendum to allow controlled granting of building height increases for flood mitigation. (FIRM's position is documented in this PDF.) She spoke with Bill Becker on US1 Radio's Morning Magazine...

The points made -- and others not mentioned -- are also spelled out in her recent submission to local newspapers, such as THIS ONE n Key West The Newspaper. Don't forget to VOTE!


LOCAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

More Keys communities pledge funds for FIRM's RIPP windstorm readiness study

October 21, 2014

The FIRM Board of Directors continues to be delighted to be able to announce that the leadership of two more Keys communities have recognized the importance of FIRM's Reduce Insurance Premiums Project (RIPP) windstorm-readiness study and have pledged financial support for the project.

The leadership of Islamorada - Village of Islands, has wisely and generously pledged $5,000 toward the cost of the RIPP study. We, and all of the property owners and residents of the Florida Keys, are grateful for this support.

Additionally, the City of Key Colony Beach's leadership has pitched in another $2000 toward the RIPP project, Again, our deep gratitude is self-evident.

These donations will be combined with the earlier $10,000 grant from Marathon (as posted previously) to help FIRM defray the overall cost of the inspections of the required 700+ dwellings and the analysis of the data that is gathered.

FIRM has issued a challenge to all Keys communities to support the ongoing efforts in the RIPP windstorm-readiness study, which ultimately affects all Monroe County residents.


VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

Representative Raschein acts
on her RIPP Post Card

October 19, 2014

Last week, Keys Florida House Representative Holly Raschein recounted her experience with the the RIPP (Reduce Insurance Premiums Project) study inspection in a discussion with Bill Becker on US1 Radio's Morning Magazine...

We still need a few more volunteers -- especially in the Lower Keys above Key West -- to achieve the statistically valid study sampling we require. Please monitor your mailbox -- or pull out the card you put aside -- and please follow the directions on the card...


FEMA REFERENCE

Updated Flood Insurance Manual

October 16, 2014

FEMA has extensively updated the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP's) "Flood Iunsurance Manual" and released the updates this month. They now provide the updated manual, broken into separate PDFs for manageable downloading, on their website.

Click here to view the FEMA page that indexes the full manual.


ENDORSEMENT REMINDER

Vote YES on the height referendum

October 14, 2014

FIRM supports Key West's referendum that will allow homeowners to protect their property by elevating structures up to 4' above base flood level. This would not be a requirement for new or existing homes. Any elevation would be at the discretion of the homeowner (and, if the home is in Key West's historic district, subject to approval by HARC). FIRM believes this is an important tactic not only to mitigate against rising flood insurance premiums, but to protect our homes for decades to come

Here is the language of the referendum:

To protect property against flooding and reduce flood insurance costs for taxpayers citywide, should the City permit an exception to building height regulations when buildings are voluntarily raised off the ground, up to four feet above FEMA established flood levels, yet no more than 40 feet in height?

As you may know, FEMA will be re-drawing flood insurance rate maps over the next few years, and the result of that redrawing will likely vary by property. (Check out this video to learn more about the issue: http://youtu.be/wFYoIgtlJL8 .) Providing homeowners with the option to elevate their structures will help us preserve our community and our way of life.

    (Click here to open a PDF copy of this endorsement.)


ON-TASK

FIRM To Meet with FEMA

October 5, 2014

FIRM this week has arranged for board members to meet with FEMA and our US Congressional Representative for discussions on how FEMA administers flood insurance, the validity of their data, why they spend so much of our premiums on administrative costs and understanding why so many in other flood-prone states are failing to pay their required premiums. (Florida pays in MUCH more than is ever paid back in claims, thus we are subsidizing the rest of America.)

The FIRM Board wants to make it clear how FEMA's drastic actions are affecting Keys residents and provide them with our recommendations. FEMA requested that this meeting be limited to Board members and selected authorities and invited experts, but we will report back to our membership in detail afterward. Stay tuned.



OLDER NEWS

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