Proposed bill would delay increase in federal flood insurance premiums which would affect many New Jersey property owners still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy
(TRENTON) – A resolution sponsored by Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) calling on Congress to pass, and President Obama to approve, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
“Many residents whose homes were severely damaged by Sandy are still dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Not only are they struggling to find the means to recover; they must now worry about how to pay for these higher insurance premiums. It’s like the storm never ended for them,” said Caride. “Passing the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act would buy these residents some time to rebuild without having these increases looming over their already overburdened shoulders.”
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has for years provided affordable flood insurance to homeowners in New Jersey’s flood prone-areas. After decades of subsidizing private property owners, the program is deeply indebted. In 2012, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act was passed to phase-out, and eventually eliminate, a variety of existing NFIP subsidies for flood insurance premiums, which will increase premiums for many New Jersey homeowners.
Under the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), these premium increases would be delayed for about four years, until an affordability study has been completed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and certain flood mapping approaches have been utilized. The act also allows policy holders to be reimbursed for successful appeals concerning flood maps, which can be of questionable accuracy, and establishes a Flood Insurance Advocate to advocate for the fair treatment of policy holders and to answer questions about the flood mapping process and flood insurance rates.
The resolution (AR-208) respectfully urges the U.S. Congress to pass, and President Obama to approve, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in order to allow flood-prone areas to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy without the additional burden of drastically increased premiums.
“Home owners are having a hard enough time financing repairs to their damaged homes. Saddling them with more debt will only make a bad situation worse,” said Caride. “These homeowners got the short end of the stick during the storm. Let’s ensure this doesn’t happen again as the federal government works to reduce costs while continuing to assist homeowners in need of help.”
The bill was approved 78-0 by the General Assembly.