Lawmakers who voted for the Biggert-Waters flood insurance reform package last year say they still want the federally-backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to pay its own way. But they weren't expecting the rate increases that the reform is triggering — and now they want the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to put on the brakes.
That's despite a policy report that praises the new rate structure, reports insurance industry news website PropertyCasualty360.com ("FEMA Urged to Address 'Unintended Consequence' of Last NFIP Bill: Huge Rate Hikes," by Arthur D. Postal). "In a little-noticed recommendation to another report on flood insurance issues, the Government Accountability Office Wednesday praised FEMA for taking steps to ensure that the "methods and data used to set NFIP rates accurately reflect the risk of losses from flooding," the website says. But on the same day, California congresswoman Maxine Waters, co-author of the reform act, joined two dozen colleagues in urging FEMA "to use any discretionary authority available to address an unintended consequence" of the reform: ""a small percentage of homeowners are learning that they may be subjected to flood insurance rates that are ten, a hundred, and in some cases, more than a thousand times higher than their current subsidized rates."
Lawmakers who supported the Biggert-Waters measure last year because of the flood insurance program's nationwide fiscal troubles are now facing local pressure from homeowners directly affected by the reform's details. One example: the New Orleans suburb of Mandeville, where local leaders are pushing for some kind of relief from flood insurance premiums. "The Mandeville City Council became the latest political body to throw its weight behind an effort to revise the controversial Biggert-Waters Act, which critics say could drastically raise flood insurance premiums for some property owners," reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune ("Mandeville government joins fight against Biggert-Waters Act," by Kim Chatelain). "The council unanimously approved a resolution asking the state's Congressional delegation to continue its fight to prevent the immediate implementation of the act."