Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his support for legislation that would prevent flood insurance rate hikes for thousands of Pennsylvanians. The bill, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would protect up to 30,000 policyholders from rate increases. Pennsylvania is the 7th most impacted state in the country with Bucks, Dauphin, Lycoming and Allegheny counties among the hardest hit. The Casey-backed bill would forestall the rate increases and evaluate the process by which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes determinations about flood insurance. The legislation has been proposed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is on the floor of the Senate this week.
“Passing this legislation would provide relief for thousands of Pennsylvania homeowners who have seen a significant rise in their flood insurance bills,” Senator Casey said. “FEMA has to strike the right balance on this issue. Homeowners should be able to get the flood insurance they need without the risk of facing skyrocketing rates.”
The potential increase in flood insurance rates is coming as a result of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012. Because of the way the legislation calculates flood risks, up to 30,000 policies in Pennsylvania could eventually see increases.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would:
- Delay rate increases for:
- All homes and businesses that are currently “grandfathered.” These are properties that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area. Prior to Biggert-Waters, these policyholders were not penalized for relying on inaccurate FEMA flood maps.
- All properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012, before they were legally required to purchase insurance.
- All properties sold after July 6, 2012. New homeowners and business owners will continue to receive the same treatment as the previous owner unless they trigger another provision in Biggert-Waters such as Severe Repetitive Loss, non-primary residence, substantial damage, etc.
- Seek assurances of FEMA’s ability to accurately determine flood risk.
- Establish a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA.
- Allow FEMA to use the National Flood Insurance Fund to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination.