By Larisa Svechin, Mayor
(Monday, July 10, 2023) – Inflation has been a constant concern in the country over the last few years impacting nearly every aspect of our lives. The cost of living in South Florida has skyrocketed across all planes and affects us all. Particularly, property insurance rates are at an all-time high. A necessary expense, especially due to our geographic coastal location, insurance protects our homes and personal property.
On the legislative front, several new state laws that address and strengthen the property insurance market for homeowners were recently passed. Signed into law last month, CS/SB 7052 prohibits authorized insurers from canceling a property insurance policy during a pending claim until the earlier of when the property has been repaired or one year after the insurer issues the final claim payment. HB 793 prohibits insurance companies and agents from engaging in several deceitful practices. The bill limits Collateral Protection Insurance (CPI), insurance that protects lenders if the borrower is unable to prove adequate property insurance coverage, to the time only when a homeowner does not have regular insurance. Lenders cannot “double dip,” or require homeowners to procure CPI before their regular policy has expired. HB 799 requires property insurers to allow for rate discounts for homeowners who take windstorm mitigation measures, requires property insurance rates to include wind uplift prevention in windstorm damage mitigation techniques, and revises rate change limitations for specified policies by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
In the aftermath of the Surfside condominium tragedy, the state reevaluated building inspection measures and mandates. The previous 40-year recertification requirements were lessened to 25 years when the state passed SB 4-D last year, which created new requirements for milestone inspections of condominiums and cooperative association buildings that are three stories or taller. As our city is within three miles of the coastline, all condos three or more stories built between 1983 and 1997 must receive a recertification inspection by the end of 2024 and then every 10 years after. For all buildings built after 1997, they must receive a recertification inspection once the building reaches 25 years and every 10 years thereafter. What this boils down to is that condominiums must be proactive by planning and putting in the work throughout the life of the building rather than when the building is up for inspection.
At the local level, our city participates in FEMA’s Community Rating System, a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management practices that not only meet, but exceed minimum requirements put in place by the National Flood Insurance Program. Sunny Isles Beach is rated a Class 8 community, which translates to a 10% discount for our residents when purchasing flood insurance.
While the city and state are working to alleviate some of the cost burden of property insurance, condominiums and homeowners should plan for enough reserves to cover the rising costs of insurance. Taking an active role in your condominium or homeowner’s association will empower property owners to take control of their investment and know their rights.