Need flood insurance? Revised FEMA flood maps in Palm Beach County says thousands of homeowners might

More than 50k Palm Beach County properties will be reclassified as being in or touching flood zones

Scene from a flood in Palm Beach County
Scene from a flood in Palm Beach County

Thousands of homeowners in Palm Beach County may be required to buy flood insurance according to newly released flood maps created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Palm Beach Post reports.

This is the first update to the county’s flood maps in more than 30 years. Broward County flood maps were updated three years ago. Miami-Dade’s maps were revised in 2009.

Palm Beach County’s revised flood maps are said to take effect Oct. 5. The changes could potentially disrupt sales of Palm Beach County homes and businesses in areas vulnerable to flooding. Flood insurance is required for properties if they are used as collateral for federally-backed and other mortgage loans.

A 2014 re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program is also scheduled to expire on Sept. 30. Florida is particularly vulnerable, because 1.8 million homeowners hold NFIP policies, making up more than a third of the nation’s nearly 5 million policyholders. Texas is a distant second with about 605,000 policyholders.

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There were more than 100,000 flood insurance policies in Palm Beach County, as of March, according to the Palm Beach Post. More than 66,000 of the policies were in unincorporated areas, nearly 15,000 were in Boca Raton, more than 9,000 were in Boynton Beach, and more than 7,000, each, were in Jupiter, Palm Beach and Delray Beach.

The newly released maps reveal more than 50,000 Palm Beach County properties will be reclassified as being in or touching flood zones, with many changes occurring in western and central parts of the county, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Yet, whether homeowners would have to buy or pay more for flood insurance remains unclear. County floodplain administrator Doug Wise told the Palm Beach Post “just because your property touches a special flood hazard area does not mean your house is in a special flood zone and you have to pay more for insurance.”

Private Florida flood insurers have multiplied in recent years. Last year, Assurant Co. joined other insurers in offering private Florida flood coverage for owners of property in zones that FEMA considers most exposed to flood risk. [Palm Beach Post] – Amanda Rabines