WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has passed a flood insurance bill Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) helped write by a vote of 67-32.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Accountability Act (S.1926) would amend the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) time to certify its flood mapping methods and to complete an affordability study mandated by the 2012 law.
The House of Representatives is developing similar legislation, according to Cochran.
“This legislation provides relief to homeowner and communities in Mississippi and throughout the country without undoing the positive reforms enacted with the Biggert-Waters law. It gives FEMA time to make sure that reforms are implemented in a responsible manner that helps ensure the viability of the federal flood insurance program,” Cochran said.
“It is important that we make certain the government’s engineering practices and procedures are sound, and understand the implications of these rates before we allow them to devalue private property and ruin people’s lives. It will be very challenging to rebuild neighborhoods or restore home equity once lost, so we must get it right.”
Cochran earlier this month met with public officials and business leaders from South Mississippi to learn more about the negative effects that escalating flood insurance premiums are having on their communities. In a floor speech last week, Cochran related the experience of a constituent from Ocean Springs whose “grandfathered” insurance rate jumped from an annual $245 to $18,450 shortly after purchasing her home.
“The passage of this bill represents a bipartisan consensus to make modest changes to existing law, while protecting homeowners and steering the National Flood Insurance Program onto a path to fiscal sustainability,” Cochran said.
Cochran said S.1926 retains current FEMA practices while creating an opportunity for the agency to determine that some Biggert-Waters reforms will actually improve the credibility of the NFIP. The legislation would not affect Biggert-Waters reforms related to expanding participation in the flood insurance program, or the phase-out of subsidized flood insurance premiums for vacation homes and homes that have a history of repeated flooding.