Congress to delay Biggert-Waters National Flood Program Reforms
While this delay heads-off the imminent threat of flood-premium driven foreclosures, it is NOT a reprieve. No legislation can hold back the rising seas or eliminate the $20 Billion+ Flood Program debt. The need for a resilient re-build has been given some breathing room, but homes in the high risk zones, including those added in the Preliminary Working Maps still need to be carefully assessed for long-term sustainability when using our limited recovery funds. This does not solve our unsafe, out-of-compliance basement apartment problem or our need to reconfigure our coastal built environment.
(Reuters) – House and Senate members have reached a bipartisan agreement to delay by at least four years a flood insurance rate hike that would impact more than a million homeowners, according to congressional sources.
The delay would apply to primary, non-repetitive loss residences grandfathered in, all properties sold after July 6, 2012, and property owners that purchased insurance coverage after July 6, 2012.
The legislation scheduled to be released next week in the House and Senate is expected to delay rate increases for two years once FEMA is able to finalize an affordability study.
Given the time required for this study, it is likely it could take up to four years before rate increases are allowed under Waters new plan.
SECTION 1. DELAYED IMPLEMENTATION OF FLOOD INSURANCE RATE INCREASES
Delays the implementation of rate increases on the following three types of properties
until FEMA meets two requirements: 1) completes the affordability study mandated by Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, proposes a draft affordability framework for Congressional review, and Congress has a chance to give FEMA affordability authority; and 2) the FEMA Administrator certifies that the agency has implemented a flood mapping approach that utilizes sound scientific and engineering methodologies to determine varying levels of flood risk in all areas participating in the National Flood Insurance Program:
1. 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.
2. All properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012, before they were
legally required to purchase insurance.
3. 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.
SECTION 5. TREATMENT OF BASEMENT AREAS WHEN CALCULATING BASE FLOOD ELEVATIONS
Preserves the pre-Biggert-Waters basement exception allowing the lowest flood-proofed
opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates. This affects 54 communities nation-wide where basements are necessary to protect homeowners and businesses from extreme weather. Basements that have not been flood-proofed would remain subject to the effects of Biggert-Waters.