Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would protect NC coastal homeowners & businesses from sharp flood insurance rate increases
Washington, D.C. – December 2, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Kay Hagan announced this week that she is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to delay steep flood insurance rate increases for North Carolina’s coastal communities. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 would block implementation of certain provisions in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completes a study on the affordability of new flood insurance rates and proposes solutions to avoid severe increases. If Congress does not act quickly, steep rate increases could put flood insurance out of reach for as many as 4 million homeowners and businesses across the country.
“Increased flood insurance rates would negatively impact homeowners and businesses on North Carolina’s coast, who are already struggling as our economy recovers,” said Senator Hagan. “Affordable flood insurance is critical for our state’s coastal communities, and North Carolinians who have played by the rules shouldn’t be crippled by rate increases. I’m committed to protecting our state’s coastal residents with a financially responsible and sustainable National Flood Insurance Program and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bipartisan bill forward in the Senate.”
This bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and now has 23 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 will:
Delay implementation of flood insurance rate hikes by approximately four years and protect NFIP policyholders who do not have an annual cap on their rate increases. This covers homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area and all properties that were built before flood maps were released.
Provide rate relief until FEMA certifies that their maps are accurate and reliable, giving Congress an opportunity to review and take action on the draft affordability framework FEMA is required to develop by Biggert-Waters.
Provide funds to reimburse homeowners for successful map appeals, enabling FEMA to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination.
Establish a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to educate policyholders about their individual flood risks, assist property owners through the map appeals process and improve outreach with local communities.
Eliminate penalties on communities self-financing flood protection. FEMA’s AR and A99 flood zone categories provide more affordable flood insurance to qualifying communities that are working on levee construction, reconstruction, and improvements, but current regulations mandate a certain level of federal funding to qualify for these designations.
Protect the “basement exception” that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates.