Miami adviser: Sea-level rise may inflate federal flood insurance premiums by 2021

Wayne Pathman, chairman of the city of Miami's Sea-Level Rise Committee, also says the city needs a 40-year plan for dealing with rising seas

Wayne Pathman
Wayne Pathman

Premiums charged by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program might surge in two to three years if they start to reflect the risk of sea level rise, according to the chairman of the Miami city government’s task force on rising seas.

The cost of flood insurance could double in two to three years if the FEMA program starts assessing the risk of sea level rise in setting premiums, said Miami attorney Wayne Pathman, chairman of the City of Miami Sea Level Rise Committee.

“Once risk-based assessment takes hold, it sends a message to the world that this place is too risky,” Pathman said at a meeting May 21 at José Marti Park in Little Havana.

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A spike in federal flood insurance premiums not only would be costly for current property owners but also would discourage outside investment in Miami real estate, said Pathman, name partner of law firm Pathman Lewis LLP.

He also said Miami needs a 40-year plan to deal with sea level rise to keep bankers, insurers and investors from writing off the region.

Miami architect Reinaldo Borges, another member of the Sea Rise Level Committee, said the group is considering components of a 40-year plan for Miami that might include zoning-code changes, revised approaches to storm water management, and guidelines for designing structures with greater resiliency. [WLRN] – Mike Seemuth