JACKSON — The state of Mississippi’s lawsuit against the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will be withdrawn pending the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) implementation of a new law passed by Congress “intended to alleviate some of the draconian rate increases facing Mississippi homeowners,” Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney said.
Chaney and the Mississippi Insurance Department filed suit Sept. 26, 2013, and were supported by several other states and entities, including Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and Massachusetts. Partially in response to the Mississippi suit and a rising number of other complaints, Congress changed the law recently.
Lawyers for the Mississippi Insurance Department filed papers Monday, which caused the lawsuit to be dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning it can be re-filed at any time should the provisions of the new law or the manner in which FEMA implements it is deemed unsatisfactory. Meanwhile, MID lawyers will monitor FEMAs’ implementation of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, passed as H.R. 3370, to ensure the new law does what is necessary to ease the financial burden on homeowners.
In 2012 Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act seeking to address some of the shortfalls in the NFIP. However, the law drastically changed the way premiums were calculated, resulting in premium increases in some cases costing thousands of dollars and making the insurance unaffordable for many Mississippians.
“I am very happy that Congress has acted to protect homeowners,” Chaney said. “However, we will have to watch FEMA’s implementation of it to be sure it actually fixes the problem. If it does – fine. If it doesn’t, we are free to re-file the lawsuit.”