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Public Statements

Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. BIGGERT. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's amendment, while well intentioned, would prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from moving toward a more actuarially sound basis for calculating premiums in as quick a manner as possible.

The underlying bill provides that FEMA, at the discretion of the administrator, can increase the chargeable premiums for flood policyholders by up to 20 percent once every 12 months until the premium being paid properly reflects the risk associated with the property.

The amendment is intended to save policyholders from the ``sticker shock'' premium increases potentially pose, but the underlying bill addresses this concern by allowing for a gradual phase-in of the actuarial rates instead of an abrupt adjustment.

One of the core goals of this bill is to move the NFIP towards a more actuarially sound, properly functioning program, and any amendment to slow down that effort must be opposed.

The amendment would strike part of section 5 that would increase annual limits on premium rates. It increases from 10 to 20 percent. The sponsors of the amendment have stated that their objective is to prevent a 100 percent increase in possible premium hikes, but what it's doing is really going to delay our being able to have a more actuarially sound basis for calculating the premiums in as quick a manner as possible.

Section 5 really addresses this concern by phasing in all of the non pre-FIRM properties to full actuarial rates over time to eliminate the subsidy and to allow the premiums paid for policies to reflect the risk covered by those policies. So I would oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. BIGGERT. Under H.R. 1309, FEMA is required to update its flood maps according to the Technical Mapping Advisory Council's recommendations within 6 months or report to Congress why it has rejected them. As part of the new standard for the flood insurance rate maps, FEMA must include in any rate map areas of residual risk, including areas behind levees, dams and other manmade structures. I'm afraid that the Cardoza amendment would fail to provide homeowners with a real assessment of their risks, thereby impairing their ability to prepare for such natural disasters.

And to address concerns about the mapping process, H.R. 1309 reinstates the Technical Mapping Advisory Council to bring in the expertise and perspectives of other stakeholders in FEMA's process for setting new mapping standards. The amendment I think would weaken these new mapping standards that are designed to give homeowners and the NFIP an accurate portrait of flood risk, and I would oppose the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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