A reader, Adrianna, writes about the oft recurring problem faced by South Floridians who may, or may not, be in a flood zone;
I am writing to you today after my mother, a retired teacher, received a letter from her mortgage company informing her that her property of 40 years is now in a Flood Zone and she is required to obtain Flood Insurance within 45 days or they will impose a very expensive policy on the property. My Mom has always been a very responsible citizen, has kept insurance on her property even when her income was substantially reduced. She paid off her mortgage ahead of time so that when she retired she wouldn’t be a burden on anyone. Because of this letter she has not slept for several nights, her blood pressure is up and is just twisted up about the entire thing. You see she has an Equity Credit Line on this property which is open but is unused. She keeps it just in case of an emergency, it is her peace of mind. Now she is worried that she will have to close this line of credit because of this undue burden being imposed on her or rather someone’s desire to mess with her.
She contacted her insurance agent who confirmed that in fact she is not in Flood Zone: AH but rather in Zone X which does not require flood insurance. I went on line for her and did some research on the FEMA website to obtain the Special Flood Hazard Area Map to see if in fact she was in Zone X. It is clear that her property is nowhere near the AH flood zone but in fact in Zone X. She contacted the mortgage company and they insist she now needs to get an opinion from FEMA and compile an excessive amount of County documents a survey and they won’t even be able to get her a response for 30 to 60 days. Just to prove that her property is where the FEMA Map shows that she is which is ZONE X. I was told by FEMA that the Banks and Insurance companies have the final say on whether a property is in a Flood Zone or not, even if the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map indicates otherwise. She will now have to incur a great deal of expense and run around to obtain a ridiculous amount of documentation in order to prove something that is already documented on a Federal map.
This just seems like an attempt by the Mortgage companies and the Insurance companies to get rid of a loan on their books and generate revenue by forcing citizens to buy insurance that they will not need. My mom will now have to spend money she doesn’t have to try and keep her security blanket (she has had this Equity Credit Line open for 8 years). I understand that this problem is being faced by a lot of Floridians and something needs to be done.
It is very disheartening to see my Mom so upset when she has spent her entire life doing the right thing and someone can send a letter and just rock someone’s world like this. I appreciate you taking the time to read/listen to me vent, but I couldn’t let this go. I will fight to get her the determination from FEMA and try to help her hold on to her peace of mind.