3/25/2014 - Congress Passes Flood Insurance Bill Halting Premium Increases
First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced that Congress has passed a flood insurance bill, which the President is expected to sign into law that would halt major flood insurance premium increases that took effect following the passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.
This bill, called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013, overhauls most of the 2012 provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). According to Congress.gov, the bill summary, which is authored by the Congressional Research Service, prohibits the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from: (1) increasing flood insurance risk premium rates to reflect the current risk of flood for certain property located in specified areas subject to a certain mandatory premium adjustment, or (2) reducing such subsidies for any property not insured by the flood insurance program as of July 6, 2012, or any policy that has lapsed in coverage as a result of the policyholder's deliberate choice (Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map or pre-FIRM properties). Sets forth expiration dates for such prohibitions.
It also amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA) to prohibit the Administrator from providing flood insurance to prospective insureds at rates less than those estimated for any property purchased after the expiration of such six-month period (currently, any property purchased after July 6, 2012).
The bill directs FEMA to: (1) restore during such six-month period specified estimated risk premium rate subsidies for flood insurance for pre-FIRM properties and properties purchased after such six-month period, and (2) submit to certain congressional committees a draft affordability framework addressing the affordability of flood insurance sold under the National Flood Insurance Program.
It prescribes procedures for expedited congressional consideration of legislation on FEMA affordability authorities and permits FEMA to enter into an agreement with another federal agency either to: (1) complete the affordability study, or (2) prepare the draft affordability framework.
The bill directs FEMA submit to certain congressional committees the affordability study and report. It also amends NFIA to authorize FEMA to reimburse homeowners for successful map appeals.
The bill makes any community that has made adequate progress on the construction (as under current law) or reconstruction (new) of a flood protection system which will afford flood protection for the one-hundred year frequency flood eligible for flood insurance at premium rates not exceeding those which would apply if such flood protection system had been completed.
The bill revises guidelines governing availability of flood insurance in communities restoring disaccredited flood protection systems to include riverine and coastal levees. It also requires FEMA to: (1) rate a covered structure using the elevation difference between the floodproofed elevation of the covered structure and the adjusted base flood elevation of the covered structure; and (2) designate a Flood Insurance Advocate to advocate for the fair treatment of policy holders under the National Flood Insurance Program and property owners in the mapping of flood hazards, the identification of risks from flood, and the implementation of measures to minimize the risk of flood.
First Selectman Tetreau said, “This major news comes at a pivotal time for our residents still dealing with the stresses and complications following Storm Sandy. This bill, which is much fairer than the old one, has many positive elements, especially the halting of flood insurance premium increases that all of our town’s flood insurance owners simply cannot afford right now. I wish to thank our entire Connecticut delegation for voting in favor of this crucial bill.”
To see the bill in its entirety, please go to http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3370.
For questions or further information on this bill, Fairfield residents are encouraged to contact Congressman Jim Himes’s aide, Amy Lappos, at Amy.Lappos@mail.house.gov or