Legislation would delay hikes for four years and call for two-year affordability study
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) joined as an original cosponsor of the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act,” a bill introduced today that would delay increases in federal flood insurance rates for four years. This legislation calls for a two-year affordability study, followed by an additional two-year delay to implementation of new rates mandated in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This delay applies to primary residences, including those sold after July 6, 2012.
“Homeowners in Rhode Island coastal communities are already seeing significant increases in their flood insurance rates, rates that, for some, are unsustainable,” said Langevin. “These families have already been through enough, seeing their homes damaged and memories destroyed by the rising floodwaters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I understand that reforms are needed in the federal flood insurance program, but those changes should not come at the cost of someone losing their home.”
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to set regulations addressing affordability within 18 months after the completion of the study. The bill eliminates the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions to levee construction or reconstruction; allows FEMA to utilize National Flood Insurance Funds to reimburse policyholders who appeal a map determination; protects the basement exemption that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining rates; and requires FEMA to certify that it has fully adopted a modernized risk-based approach to analyzing flood risk. The bill also establishes a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer policyholder questions.
“As Rhode Islanders know all too well, so-called ‘100-year storms’ are becoming more frequent, providing a stark reminder that climate change is a reality we have to adjust to,” Langevin continued. “But as we work on mitigation efforts and improving our coastal defenses to superstorms like Sandy, we must protect our homeowners. Thousands of individuals and families are insured under the National Flood Insurance Program, and we cannot price them out of their homes.”