As posted on TraceyC-Media.com by TRACEY C. O’NEILL
Washington, D.C. – On Friday, President Obama signed The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3370) into law.
The comprehensive legislation repealed rate increases mandated under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, some which have already gone into effect.
“This legislation is good news for homeowners and provides much-needed relief for those who were facing staggering increases in their flood insurance premiums,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in press release, upon the Senate’s passage of the bill. “The National Flood Insurance Program is vital to protecting Rhode Island homeowners, businesses, and property values throughout the state, and I’m glad Congress was able to come together in a bipartisan way to provide policy holders with a comprehensive, long-term solution that will ensure financial stability and predictability in the NFIP and the flood insurance market.”
Reed authored an amendment to the law that required FEMA to study the possibility of making voluntary, community-based flood insurance policies available through the NFIP.
Refunds due some property owners
The 2014 law restored grandfathered rates for some property owners and set forth the requirements for future rate increases, including those of property owners mapped into floodplain areas not previously designated as special flood hazard zones.
It also designated refunds for those property owners who paid excessive premiums under the Biggert-Waters mandates.
The administrator shall refund directly to insureds any premiums for flood insurance coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program collected in excess of the rates required under the provisions of and amendments made by this section.
According to Reed’s release, implementation of Biggert Waters resulted in skyrocketing premiums for some floodprone area policy holders.
States like Rhode Island with a high percentage of properties that predate the flood insurance program (so-called “pre-FIRM” or pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map properties) have been particularly hard hit by these premium increases.
Habitat Restoration Amendment Remains
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also authored an amendment to the bill. Whitehouse also released a statement upon Senate passage.
“This bill will provide relief to many Rhode Island homeowners facing sharp rate increases in their flood insurance policies,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “We must ultimately look for a path forward that puts the federal flood insurance program on solid financial footing, implements rates that reflect actual risk to properties, and does not put too much of a burden on homeowners. This bill establishes a process through which we can work toward that goal, and I’m glad we were able to pass it in bipartisan fashion.”
Whitehouse’s amendment alleviated red tape and costs that were prohibitive to conservation and habitat restoration.
According to the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, all 39 cities and towns in the state participate in the National Flood Insurance Plan.