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Rick Scott signs flood insurance flexibility bill into law

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Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday afternoon granted final approval to a measure sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes aimed at increasing flexibility and lowering premiums on insurance premiums.

SB 1094 was co-sponsored by Brandes’ fellow Pinellas County Republican state Rep. Larry Ahern.

Brandes and Ahern both represent moderate coastal districts where flood insurance is among voters’ highest priorities. Brandes has passed legislation before in the Senate related to the federal Biggert-Waters Act.

The measure would allow insurance companies and those seeking coverage by flood policies to deviate from federal guidelines set forth by the National Flood Insurance Program, provided both parties agree to the terms.

It also requires local coastal management plans to include consideration of flood risk and otherwise encourages local governments to tackle the issue by acting directly to mitigate flood damage.

Ahern and Brandes both emphasized the so-called “customizable” aspect of their proposal following its passage through the Legislature. The bill allows an insured to negotiate with an insurance underwriter directly to come to flood coverage terms regarding deductibles and reimbursement levels.

“This bill gives Floridians an affordable option that may keep them in their homes, and empowers homeowners to take control of their flood insurance,” Brandes said in a joint prepared statement with Ahern when the bill passed the Legislature back in late April.

 “Washington has held our homeowners hostage with drastic rate increases, but this legislation shows that Florida is committed to private market flood insurance reform.”

The bill becomes law on July 1.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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