By KONK Life News Staff

With the addition of flood insurance on FIRM”s plate, the FIRM  (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe) Board of Directors has hired Charles “Chic” Wagner to serve as executive director of the grassroots organization.


“Chic’s skill set, passion and knowledge will help FIRM realize their goals in 2014 and beyond, “ said Vice Chair, Cindy DeRocher, who served on the selection committee.  DeRocher was a part of the original founding of FIRM in 2006 to combat harsh windstorm rates. FIRM also has taken an active role in an effort to repeal or amend the Biggert-Waters Act which is resulting in significant flood insurance rate hikes for all coastal communities.


Wagner, formerly a Boston lawyer specializing in employment law litigation, joined the FIRM board in 2012 and has been assisting in contract negotiations,  advocacy and public outreach.


“Punitive insurance rates are the greatest threat to our economy,” Wagner said.  “If we don’t push our leaders to solve this, homeowners equity will evaporate. It will impact our local economy like nothing we have seen to date.


Since its founding FIRM has spearheaded efforts to stem the tide of rising windstorm rates in Monroe County.   Currently, FIRM is in the midst of a comprehensive windstorm study in an effort to get an accurate analysis of the windstorm risk to Monroe County properties.


“We believe our study will prove Citizens is charging rates that are not based on sound numbers,”  said Annalise Mannix, Key West engineer and FIRM’s project manager for the study.


The $485,000 study is being funded by Citizens Property Insurance Corp (CPIC).  The hope is that the new more accurate analysis will result in a more attractive market for private insurers.  Currently, CPIC provides windstorm coverage for 91% of the properties in the Florida Keys.


“FIRM is firing on all fronts of the property insurance crisis – on a local and state perspective and now also on a federal level,” said FIRM Chair and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers. “Chic has the chops to help take us there.”