The Independent Community Bankers of America urged the Senate last week to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting homeowners from increases in flood insurance premiums that began in October.
Under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies are required to make changes to the operations of the National Flood Insurance Program, including rate increases for some policyholders over time.
Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have introduced the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which would delay rate increases for up to four years by allowing FEMA ample time to develop a plan to help homeowners who cannot afford the premium increases.
“ICBA strongly supports the bipartisan S. 1846 to protect homeowners and communities nationwide from higher National Flood Insurance Program premiums,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “Providing FEMA more time to investigate the potential impact on millions of Americans is essential to minimizing the unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.”
The ICBA said that unless the Senate acts to delay the premium increases, many policyholders will see unaffordable premiums, and home values will plummet, destabilizing a still-fragile housing recovery.
“This is not just a coastal issue – it affects every state in the nation, which is why we have such broad geographic support,” Menendez said last week. “Every state suffers from floods and every state is subject to updated FEMA flood maps which will result in dramatic rate increases for homeowners… This is a targeted, bipartisan compromise that has some of the broadest range of support we’ve seen in the Senate, both in ideology and geography.”
The Menendez-Isakson bill has support from Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); Mary Landrieu (D-La.); David Vitter (R-La.); Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); Bill Nelson (R-Fla.); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Mark Begich (D-Alaska); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); John Hoeven (R-N.D.); Al Franken (D-Minn.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.); and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).