U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today joined Senator David Vitter (R-La.) to introduce legislation to avoid potentially drastic flood insurance rate increases.
Cochran is the primary cosponsor to the Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act, which was developed in response to increasing concerns from Mississippians about the prospect of significantly higher flood insurance rates being imposed as early as 2014.
The Vitter-Cochran legislation would delay the phase-in period for new flood insurance rates until communities have time to better plan for them, give flexibility to state and local governments to assist with subsidizing flood insurance, and reform some Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood mapping procedures.
"Families, businesses and communities in Mississippi and around the nation need assurance that new flood insurance premiums will not be cost prohibitive. Our legislation seeks to ensure that any higher flood insurance costs, on top of other insurance requirements, do not overwhelm family budgets or economic growth in areas that rely on the National Flood Insurance Program," Cochran said.
"Flood insurance is obviously vital for business and families in Louisiana and this is a big, big deal for folks," Vitter said. "We need to make sure that people who have been following the rules aren't priced out of their homes because their flood insurance rates increase so dramatically. It's a legitimate fear, and our bill would work to make sure that doesn't happen."
The ongoing implementation of some of the flood insurance reforms included in the Food Insurance Reform Act of 2012 have generated confusion and concern as FEMA issues new flood map rules that will affect insurance coverage requirements and rates. These directives would supersede rules that have been followed in recent years to guide home and business construction in Mississippi, Louisiana and other flood-prone regions.
To address these problems, the Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act would:
* Ensure that communities that were developing new maps by the end of 2013 will be able to maintain the grandfathered rates that are subject to change in Section 207 of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012;
* Allow a five-year phase in of actuarially sound rates for newly purchased homes;
* Authorize state and local governments flexibility to subsidize homeowners flood insurance properties if they so choose;
* Enable 25 percent of mitigation funding in a given year to go directly to homeowners to support pre-disaster mitigation improvements;
* Prohibit FEMA from considering the level of federal funding or participation in a flood control structure project when determining the level of protection that the project provides the community; and
* Require that FEMA include all protections provided by any levee, dam or other flood control structure regardless of accreditation status before the flood insurance rate map or update may be finalized.