Cassidy Supports Key Additions to House Flood Insurance Bill
WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Cassidy commented on the amended version of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, H.R. 3370, which builds on the Senate bill to provide quality relief for homeowners across the nation. Dr. Cassidy released the following statement:
“The overwhelming support for the legislation by elected Louisiana officials like Senator Vitter and local parish presidents, as well as national stakeholder organizations, recognizes that the House bill addresses the concerns of those impacted by FEMA’s implementation of Biggert-Waters. By providing predictability and stability to Louisiana families and businesses, the legislation as amended will provide long term relief.”
H.R. 3370, as amended, has several key provisions that builds upon the Senate version (Menendez-Isakson):
1. Reinstates Grandfathering – The House bill reinstates grandfathering by permanently repealing Section 100207 of BW-12. This means that all post-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) properties built to code at the time of construction will have protection from rate spikes due to new mapping. The Senate bill delays this provision 6 months after the later of (1) FEMA’s submission of a draft affordability framework or (2) FEMA’s certification of a flood mapping approach that utilizes technically credible flood hazard data.
2. Caps Annual Rate Increases at 15% – The House bill decreases FEMA’s authority to raise premiums. The bill prevents FEMA from increasing premiums within a single property class beyond a 15% average a year. The Senate bill retains FEMA’s post BW-12 authority of increasing rates, on average, up to 20% a year. The provision is the same in each bill except the House lowers additional increases by 5% for Louisiana policyholders and incorporates a 5% minimum.
3. Permanently Removes the Home Sale/New Policy Rate Increase Trigger – The House bill repeals the home sale/new policy rate increase triggers (in Section 100205 of BW-12) so the person buying the home is treated the same as the person selling it. The Senate bill delays these provisions 6 months after the later of (1) FEMA’s submission of a draft affordability framework or (2) FEMA’s certification of a flood mapping approach that utilizes technically credible flood hazard data.
4. Refunds to Policyholders – The House bill provides a refund for the people who purchased a Pre-FIRM subsidized home without the full transparency from FEMA on the new BW-12 rate structure, which wasn’t made public for a year after BW-12 was signed into law. The Senate bill provides no refunds as its implementation is prospective.
5. Strengthens Fiscal Solvency of the NFIP- Finally, the House bill helps to strengthen the fiscal solvency of the NFIP by fully paying for its relief provisions. This is done through a small annual assessment dedicated to build up the NFIP reserve fund, which is currently inadequate to handle future storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. As the President noted in his Statement of Administration Policy, the Senate’s Menendez-Isakson Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 would “erode the financial position of the NFIP” and would “reduce FEMA's ability to pay future claims made by all policyholders.”
H.R. 3370, as amended, is a critical step forward in providing greater relief from the sudden and unreasonable flood insurance rate increases. It is critical to balance both consumer affordability of flood insurance with the fiscal solvency of the NFIP.