Senate OKs delay in flood insurance hikes, but doubts remain

By on February 6, 2014

kittyhawkflooding

Flooding in Kitty Hawk after Hurricane Sandy. (NCDOT)

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill that would delay increases in flood insurance premiums, but passage in the House remains doubtful and the Obama administration says it opposes parts of the measure.

Called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, the bill would delay an overhaul of the flood insurance program until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can analyze the economic impact of proposed rate increases.

The vote in the Senate was 67 to 32 on Thursday, Jan. 30, but the bill faces opposition in the U.S. House of Representatives. And just before the Senate vote, the Obama Administration released a statement opposing key provisions of the legislation, according to an update by the Washington-based Community Associations Institute.

A widely published Associated Press report also quoted Speaker John Boehner as saying that the House would not take up the bill.

The legislation was introduced to delay changes mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act, which is intended to improve the flood insurance program’s finances.

Under the act, houses that were built after flood maps were first drawn in the mid-70s and early-80s will no longer be grandfathered into the zone or flood level that applied at the time of construction, Willo Kelly, the president of NC 20, said at a recent presentation in Kill Devil Hills.

New flood maps are due out sometime this year, and many property owners will find themselves in a zone considered a higher risk or be faced with a higher base flood level, which will lead to higher premiums.

Before Biggert-Waters, the rates were grandfathered, that is, they were based on how the structure was listed when it was built even as maps changed over the years.

Also taking a big hit will be businesses and structures with repetitive losses.

Some property owners would qualify for a five-year phase-in of higher premiums, according to the homeowners association group. But those seeking to sell their property did not qualify for the phase-in.

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