A trickle of concern about rising flood insurance rates has turned into a torrent of Congressional bills and a court challenge seeking to delay, modify or abolish the law responsible.
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act phases out subsidized flood insurance rates to make the National Flood Insurance Program more financially sound.
The consumer outcry about the steep rate hikes it has caused prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to file a brief in support of a Mississippi lawsuit against the law, stating in part:
“Florida’s citizens are particularly vulnerable to the harsh effects of FEMA’s arbitrary implementation of Biggert-Waters, in light of the large number of Florida properties insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Already, the premium quotes received by Florida policyholders are so high that many homes have become unaffordable, leaving homeowners to choose between foreclosure and sale to escape the crushing financial burden imposed by the NFIP rate increases. In many instances, however, sale is not a viable option because the new exorbitant premiums render the properties unaffordable to potential buyers.
This cycle has already begun to have a deleterious effect on the real estate markets and economy of the State of Florida.”
Outside the court system, Congress is working to undo what it did by passing Biggert-Waters.
The proposed Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would postpone flood insurance rate increases required by Biggert-Waters on some, but not all, properties for about four years while FEMA develops a more affordable plan. It would also require FEMA to prove its mapping methods are sound.
Florida legislation has been proposed to allow insurers to create alternatives to NFIP policies during the delay, if the federal act is passed.
Another proposal in Congress, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Relief Act, would phase in rate increases over 10 years and allow homeowners to pay premiums on a monthly basis.
The Flood Insurance Premium Relief Act of 2013 would delay hikes for one year.
Other pending bills in Congress include The Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2013 and the Flood Victim Premium Relief Act of 2013.