Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined a bipartisan coalition of her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. As a cosponsor of the legislation, Jaime has worked in Congress to improve the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters). Residents in Southwest Washington and across the country have been concerned with FEMA’s implementation of Biggert-Waters and the unaffordable premium increases for policyholders in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The bill passed this evening by a vote of 306-91.
“The uncertainty families and businesses face with premium rate increases in the National Flood Insurance Program is a serious concern for folks in Southwest Washington, especially low income, the elderly, and working families who may not be able to stay in their homes because rates have spiked well past what they can afford,” said Jaime. “Without action the rise in rates will continue causing pain throughout our communities. Bankers are apprehensive to approve mortgage loans, home building and renovation are stalled, and realtors cannot close property sales because of the uncertainty circling around this problem. The bill we passed today is a partial solution.
This legislation addresses the unintended consequences that stemmed from FEMA’s implementation of Biggert-Waters, and would help many residents of Southwest Washington who face an unaffordable premium increase or would find themselves in a flood zone even though their property has no history of flooding. FEMA’s remapping process has been found to overlook existing flood mitigation and controls that are in place to protect communities.
“I’m pleased to support this fiscally responsible approach to an affordable flood insurance program for Southwest Washington,” Jaime continued. “I hope the Senate will follow our lead and quickly pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act so we can provide individuals and families with stability and predictability that is so important in an economy that’s still finding its way.”
This legislation would also repeal the massive rate increases on “grandfathered properties” that were built to code, refund policyholders whose rates previously increased, cap annual rate increases on individual properties, assess a small fee on policyholders that will ensure the bill is paid for and fund the NFIP reserve fund. The legislation will also direct FEMA to improve flood mapping and take into account existing flood mitigation efforts, work with communities to ensure maps accurately reflect flood risk, and provide information to policyholders on NFIP and premium rates.