Action 9 investigates flood insurance shocker



A St. Cloud woman thought it had to be a mistake when she was billed more than $8,000 for flood insurance.

Fearing the worst, Rita Carroll called Action 9 for help.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich found why some homeowners in new flood zones could be slammed with similar bills, and how you can challenge it and win.

A quiet day for Carroll at her St. Cloud home was shattered by a bill from her insurance company for flood insurance.

“It was like a bomb exploding in my hand. Totally devastating, not expecting it at all,” said Carroll.

Who wouldn't feel that way? Carroll's modest home is 1,000 square feet and four blocks from the nearest lake.

Last year, Carroll paid $400 for optional flood insurance. Now the bill was demanding $8,400 for a one-year mandatory policy.

“I started crying the minute I saw it," she said.

Carroll said she called her agent, who said it was not a mistake because FEMA had changed the flood zones, and her home was now in the highest-risk area and the bill was due in 30 days.

"Never got any notice that I was in a flood zone other than the one I knew I was in,” said Carroll.

FEMA maps have changed in many areas so homeowners who aren't prepared to be a high-risk area could end up getting sky-high bills. They should also be told you can easily prevent that.

A homeowner needs to obtain a certificate of elevation, something that was not available for Carroll's home.

“They're going to automatically put that risk into the highest-rated category, which is the highest premium possible,” said insurance expert Tom Cotton.

After contacting Action 9, the insurance company gave Carroll a 45-day extension to pay for an elevation certificate.  The certificate should cut her homeowners insurance bill from $8,000 to about $450.

"I cried until I got (Action 9's) email, and your call and thought this is worth fighting,” said Carroll.

Action 9 helped Carroll find a surveying company to complete an elevation certificate, which shows her home's elevation above the flood plain.