MURPHY STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF FLOOD INSURANCE BILL, IMPACT ON CONNECTICUT HOMEOWNERS, SMALL BUSINESSES
January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement on the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which passed in the Senate 67-32 today:
“In 2012, Congress made a good-faith effort to reform the deeply-indebted National Flood Insurance Program,” said Murphy. “However, the implementation of that legislation by FEMA has proved to be truly inept, with some homeowners and businesses having seen their flood insurance premiums shoot up in the last few months. Homeowners and small businesses on Connecticut’s shoreline and rivers have felt the most pain. The legislation the Senate passed today will delay some elements of the 2012 law in order to ensure that flood insurance remains affordable for everyone, especially homeowners who are still rebuilding from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. I’m also glad that this bill will reimburse those in Connecticut who have been incorrectly included in FEMA’s floodmaps. I was proud to vote in favor of this bill, and I urge my colleagues in the House to do the same.”
The legislation will:
- Delay implementation of flood insurance rate increases and protects National Flood Insurance Program policyholders who have no annual cap on their rate increases and have seen their property values plummet as a direct result of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. This includes all homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area and all properties that were built before flood maps were released which could see their rates skyrocket overnight when they try to sell their property.
- Provide targeted rate relief to these policyholders until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certifies that their maps are accurate and reliable, and Congress has an opportunity to review and take action on the draft affordability framework FEMA will develop using the findings of the study mandated by Biggert-Waters.
- Provide funds to reimburse homeowners for successful map appeals: Allows FEMA to utilize NFIP to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination. FEMA currently has the authority to reimburse eligible expenses related to surveyors, engineers or similar services, but Congress has not appropriated funding for this account.
- Eliminate penalties on communities self-financing flood protection: FEMA's AR and A99 flood zone categories provide more affordable flood insurance to qualifying communities in the process of levee construction, reconstruction, and improvements. Current regulations require a certain level of federal funding to qualify for either an A99 or an AR designation and prevent FEMA from giving communities fair credit for improvements made to existing flood control systems. Proactive communities that are actively investing in mitigation should not be penalized for self-financing flood protection projects.
- Protect the basement exception that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates. This impacts 54 communities nation-wide where basements are necessary to protect homeowners and businesses from extreme weather.
- Establish a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process. The Rate Map Advocate will be responsible for educating policyholders about their individual flood risks, assisting property owners through the map appeals process, and improve outreach and coordination with local officials and community leaders.