Senator Joe Manchin wrote a letter to Marlinton Mayor Joe Smith with good news – on March 21, President Barack Obama signed into law the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act. Senator Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall supported the bill in the Senate and House, respectively.
The law is intended to provide relief from increasing flood insurance costs, which were caused by the Biggert-Waters Act, a law that requires the Federal Emergency Managaement Agency (FEMA) to get massive National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) debt under control.
Among other provisions, the new law:
– Lowers the recent rate increases on some policies, prevents some future rate increases,and implements
a surcharge on all policyholders.
– Repeals certain rate increases that have already gone into effect and provides for refunds to those policyholders.
– Authorizes additional resources for the National Academy of Sciences to complete an affordability study.
– Repeals the provision in Biggert-Waters that would have terminated grandfathering. If grandfathering was terminated, property owners mapped into higher risk would have to either elevate their structure or have higher rates phased in over five years.
– Repeals the provision in Biggert-Waters that required homebuyers to pay the full-risk rate for pre-flood insurance rate map (FIRM) properties at the time of purchase. This provision caused property values to steeply decline and made many homes unsellable, hurting the real estate market.
“At a time when many Americans are still struggling to pay the bills each month from a slowly recovering economy, it is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of homeowners have faced unreasonable and unmanageable increases to their flood insurance premiums,” Manchin wrote. “I’m pleased that members of Congress from both chambers have come together to relieve hardworking American homeowners from these drastic rate increases.”
A fact sheet on the new law, along with advice for homeowners, can be found at www.riskmap6.com/documents/resource/Homeowner%20Flood%20Insurance%20Affordability%20Act%20Overview.pdf.