A bipartisan group of Senate and House members have proposed a deal to delay flood insurance premium increases taking effect as a result of last year's Biggert-Waters Act. The rate increases will greatly increase costs for homeowners living in flood-prone areas and could also affect the nation's housing market.
The legislation has four principal goals: It would delay most flood insurance increases for four years; compel the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete an affordability study mandated by Biggert-Waters; address issues found within the study; and allow Congress time to review those findings and revisions.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., one of the namesakes of the Biggert-Waters Act, announced the deal today. On Friday, eight Senators appealed to fellow senators for support for the bill, which would delay flood insurance rate increases for thousands of homeowners set to take effect as part of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.
As of Friday, eight senators—Mary Landrieu, D-La.; David Vitter, R-La.; John Isakson, R-Ga.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.—had signed on as co-sponsors. There has been no announcement regarding when there might be a vote on the proposed legislation.
The bill comes at a time when many homeowners in flood-prone areas are seeing their flood insurance costs skyrocket as a result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Rates have risen so high—increasing sevenfold for some—that many homeowners in deeply affected areas are considering selling their homes and moving.
The changes, which took effect earlier this month, phase out flood insurance subsidies for thousands of homes in flood-prone areas, shifting the burden to homeowners. Rate increases were part of the Biggert-Waters Act, intended to help relieve the NFIP's operational deficit.
Brendan Rimetz is an online content producer for Hanley Wood, the company that publishes REMODELING.