The House Insurance and Banking Committee met this week and heard a report from the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) on the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.  Acknowledging recent media reports regarding escalating premiums, OIR stressed that this is a federal program, which limits the state’s role, and that a number of issues remain unclear. In brief, OIR indicated that, beginning January 2013, any non-primary residence that has “subsidized policy” will see a 25% increase in premium each year until it reaches the full-risk rate. According to OIR, FEMA reports that this will affect more than 36,000 properties in Florida; or about 2% of all policies.  Beginning October 1, all business properties and severe repetitive loss properties whose policies are classified as “subsidized” will also see annual increases in premiums of 25% until they reach their full-risk rates.  While it is certain that premiums will rise, OIR indicated that its unclear by what amount, noting that rates are dependent on a range of risk factors – i.e., base flood elevation, coastal velocity zones, etc.  However, other presenters representing the real estate industry claimed that some property owners have received policy renewal notices that have their rates increasing by as much as 400%.  One of the last presenters from the insurance industry suggested there were at least three things the state could do to address the issue. First, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) should be directed to request that FEMA clarify its re-mapping process. If preliminary maps are being considered by FEMA, they need to be published on-line. Second, OIR should be directed to provide a report that addresses how the private insurance sector can be encouraged to begin writing flood policies. Finally, it was suggested that the state should consider creating its own trust fund for flood insurance and consider opting out of the federal program.