Patriot Ledger: Senate OKs delay of big flood insurance premium hikes
Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren were among the 67 senators who voted to postpone parts of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act
By: Jessica Trufant
January 31, 2014
Legislation to delay an overhaul of the federal flood insurance program took a major leap forward Thursday when it passed the U.S. Senate on a 67-32 vote.
Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren were among the 67 senators who voted to postpone parts of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 for four years. The act is hitting homeowners with massive premium hikes.
"I have met with and heard the fear and frustration of homeowners and businesses in Massachusetts impacted by new flood insurance policies - in Marshfield, Gloucester, Quincy, Newburyport, and Scituate," Markey said in a statement Thursday. "This bill will help them and all those across the country ... by ensuring that we have addressed the affordability of flood insurance before any crippling rate increases go into effect."
Biggert-Waters eliminates flood insurance subsidies for homes built before the creation of flood maps, causing premiums to soar. The act started phasing into effect last year for secondary, repetitive loss and newly-purchased homes, as well as businesses, bringing the coastal real estate market to a near standstill.
The financial impact could intensify with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's release of new flood maps, which are scheduled to go live this summer. Those maps expand flood plains and raise water elevations, requiring thousands more property owners to purchase flood insurance.
Some legislators have been pushing to delay some of the changes for four years until FEMA completes an affordability study, which was mandated but not undertaken.
Warren in a statement said the bill would also require FEMA to "make certain that its maps are accurate, reliable, and reflect the best available scientific data."