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PATCH: Proposed Bill Would Protect LIers From Flood Insurance Hikes

The bipartisan legislation would require a six-month period to study flood insurance rates before making any changes.

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Washington, May 6, 2021 | comments

WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D—NY), who represents many south shore homeowners in flood zones, announced a program to give families a clearer understanding of rising flood insurance rates.

Should the bill pass, the Federal Emergency Management Agency must release a comprehensive analysis for new flood rates at least six months before making changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The bill, put forth by Rice and Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R—NY), would also halt any adjustments to FEMA's flood-risk methodology during or within six months following COVID-19 declaration.

Currently, FEMA plans to implement premium changes on Oct. 1, 2021, for new flood insurance policies and amend existing policies on April 1, 2022.

"We cannot allow Long Island homeowners to be burdened with more expensive flood insurance premiums during this national emergency," Rice said in a statement. "This bipartisan bill will require that FEMA publicly disclose and provide additional details before any changes to its flood insurance models can be implemented."

The bipartisan legislation follows the results of a study by the First Street Foundation, a group of academics and experts that models flood risks. The NFIP would have to "quadruple premiums on high-risk homes inside floodplains to reflect the risks they already face," the study indicated.

It was Long Beach City Councilmember Liz Treston, who brought this matter to Rice's attention, expressing her concerns with rising costs.

"Our communities are made up of diverse socio-economic populations that cannot afford drastic increases in flood insurance," Treston said in a statement. "New York is projected to see 68 percent of our policies increase, and NFIP policies should fairly reflect this risk nationally. During this pandemic, it seems the right thing to do is to once again, put off Risk Rating 2.0 and give us all a chance to recover, both from still unaddressed Sandy issues and effects of the pandemic itself. I support the bipartisan NFIP RISC Act because the extra time would allow us to see how this all will work and if it truly reflects true costs to our families and policyholders."

The bill would also highlight overall changes in premium costs for homeowners and show the impacts on various categories of properties, including low-income households and properties with grandfathered premiums.

By: Jerry Barmash, Patch Staff

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