Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced today that she co-sponsored an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) that would halt premium rate increases for the National Flood Insurance Program until FEMA completes a study on the impact increased premiums have on the affordability of flood insurance for homeowners. Currently, many homeowners could see an increase in their premiums of up to 20 to 25 percent over the next several years, including many still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Senator Gillibrand pushed for a delay in insurance hikes and called on FEMA to submit a report to Congress on affordability. The U.S. Senate may vote on the amendment later this week.
“Six months after Superstorm Sandy devastated our region, homeowners throughout New York are still struggling to rebuild and are faced with enormous storm-damage repairs and costs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that we stop these insurance increases until FEMA examines the consequences and Congress acts to reduce the financial hardship on storm-ravaged homeowners.”
Under the Biggert-Waters Act, which extended the National Flood Insurance Program for five years through 2017, many homeowners who were previously eligible for subsidized flood insurance premium rates could see an increase in their premiums of 20 to 25 percent over the next several years. The law, however, requires FEMA to conduct a study on how to establish a federal framework for helping individuals to afford risk-based premium rates through targeted assistance rather than general subsidized rates. The study was to be submitted to Congress by March 2012.
The amendment Gillibrand co-sponsored would delay any changes to premium risk rates under Biggert-Waters until 180 days after the FEMA Administrator releases the mandated report to Congress.