Washington, DC- With over 30,000 Pennsylvania policyholders potentially impacted, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, called for passage of legislation that will forestall flood insurance hikes. This bipartisan legislation has support in both houses of Congress and would protect Pennsylvanians, some of whom are beginning to feel the first impacts of these hikes. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Casey pushed for the Senate to quickly act on this legislation before steeper rate hikes take effect. Pennsylvania would be the 7th most impacted state in the country without passing this legislation.
“I have called on the Senate to take up this legislation soon to give certainty to homeowners across Pennsylvania,” Senator Casey said. “This is a commonsense, bipartisan proposal that could prevent drastic rate hikes for over 30,000 policyholders across the state.”
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
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
I am writing to encourage action on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. This bipartisan legislation would prevent unaffordable flood insurance rate hikes affecting homeowners across the country, including thousands in my home state of Pennsylvania.
Timely consideration by the Senate is essential. Under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, FEMA is implementing changes that will result in dramatic rate increases for a wide range of homeowners, from senior citizens who have been remapped into flood risk areas to prospective home sellers whose property values are being driven down by rate increases. The rate hikes, which in many cases are as high as 25 percent annually, impose a burden that many homeowners cannot afford.
It is essential that we strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program, but we should also make sure that homeowners get the protection they need at affordable rates. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act strikes the right balance by delaying certain rate increases until FEMA completes an affordability study already mandated by the Biggert-Waters reform bill. It also establishes an effective framework for maintaining affordability in the future by creating a Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA and allowing policyholders to receive compensation from the National Flood Insurance Fund. This bill will ensure that we strengthen flood insurance in a way that is fair and sensible for the thousands of Americans who count on it.
As rate hikes continue to impact a growing number of homeowners, it is imperative that we provide relief and set a foundation for a sustainable, affordable flood insurance program.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator