New legislation aimed at providing comprehensive reform and longer-term relief from skyrocketing premiums within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been proposed by a group of U.S. lawmakers.
The legislation is the result of a collaborative effort with Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and other House Members from Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and around the country.
It incorporates bi-partisan solutions that help make flood insurance more affordable without jeopardizing the financial solvency of the NFIP.
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, advocated for many of the reforms within this legislation, including the insertion of a key provision that permanently reinstates grandfathered flood insurance rates.
“This legislation is important for Louisiana. It permanently reinstates grandfathered flood insurance rates and protects those who built their homes to code. It also helps stabilize our real estate market so home buyers don’t face large flood insurance premiums after buying a home. Louisiana families facing big flood insurance rate hikes need this legislation, and I will work for its passage,” said Cassidy in a press release.
Cassidy said the legislation does not add to the national deficit and builds upon the Cassidy Amendment, which became law in January and delays grandfathered flood insurance rate increases through at least late next year and possibly through April 2016.
The House legislation provides relief through several measures, specifically:
• Repealing a provision in the Biggert-Waters Act that threatens hundreds of thousands of homeowners with huge flood insurance cost increases and reinstating grandfathering permanently. This means catastrophic rate increases will not occur because of FEMA remapping.
• Repealing home sale/new policy rate increase triggers so the person buying the home is treated the same as the person selling it.
• Providing a retroactive refund for people who already realized huge increases due to the sale/purchase of a home.
The House bill also helps strengthen the fiscal solvency of the NFIP by fully paying for its relief provisions. This is done through a small annual assessment dedicated to build up the NFIP reserve fund, which is currently inadequate to handle future storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
The House bill also includes generally accepted affordability measures such as: high deductible options, map certification, flood protection funding recognition, exceptions on escrow requirements, and optional monthly installment plans. The bill lifts the funding cap on the affordability study and accelerates its completion.
Local elected officials and community leaders in Louisiana voiced their support for the bill.
“The support for this bill has been overwhelming. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will provide stability and predictability for Louisiana families and businesses. My colleagues and I, from across the aisle and the country, will work to secure its passage,” said Cassidy.
“Passage of this bill, and the subsequent conference with the Senate, will end our year-long battle over the right to remain in our homes, with gradual flood insurance premium increases. We are accustomed to fighting natural disasters, not man-made ones,” said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.
Windell Curole, General Manager of the South Lafourche Levee District stated, “H.R. 3370 amends and fundamentally changes the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act to reflect its initial intention. The amendment begins to solve the deficit in the NFIP while avoiding punitive and unfair insurance rates on people who have followed the rules set by FEMA. Congressman Cassidy and the entire Louisiana delegation have done a great service on finding avenues to solve some of the critical problems with the NFIP. This amendment is a giant step towards improving the NFIP while being fair to both the homeowners and the American taxpayers.”
Posted on Tue, February 25, 2014
by The Lafourche Gazette