The Bill helps stem the tide in order to avoid the increased flood insurance rates throughout Massachusetts
Both the Massachusetts Association of Independent Insurance Agents (“MAIA”) and its national counterpart, the Big “I” applauded the passage this week of the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013.” Also known as H.R. 3370, the Bill, sponsored by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-.N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), passed the House of Representatives under its “suspension of rules” requiring a two-thirds vote in favor. The Senate’s version of the Bill was passed by that by on January 30th by a 67-32 vote.
“The Big ‘I’ is pleased that the House has also passed this sound piece of legislation that addresses a major legislative priory for the association: mitigating the rate shock unintentionally caused by Biggert-Waters,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This bill aims to reduce some of the harmful effects of Biggert-Waters without undoing the numerous positive provisions within the law.”
The bill aims to repeal in its entirety Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Act. The result would be to reinstate the practice of “grandfathering” of policies in certain communities with a new or redrawn map. The Big “I” also notes that the House Bill would rectify Section 205 stop the elimination of subsidies for “pre-FIRM properties.”
Congressman Steven Lynch, who represents the 8th District of Massachusetts, was one of the backers of the Bill.
“Today’s bill is the result of several months of hard work and a week of productive negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, which has resulted in a bill that will give meaningful relief for most homeowners and businesses in my district subject to FEMA’s flood maps. Although the bill does not bring relief to owners of second homes we will continue to pursue that effort. Not only does this bill roll back the most egregious and unfair premium increases that were the unintended consequence of the Biggert-Waters Act, but it also brings transparency and accountability to FEMA’s troubled and error-prone flood mapping process. I would like to thank Ranking Member Maxine Waters, Republican leadership, and all the members who worked so hard to bring this legislation to this point.”
According to Congressman Lynch, these are the key components of H.R. 3370:
- Repeals rate increase “triggers”
- Restores grandfathering
- Caps Rate Increases
- Refunds Premiums Already Paid
- Funds Completion of the Affordability Study and Framework mandated by Biggert-Waters
Mass. independent agents responded quickly to the MAIA’s call this week to help pass this Bill.
Late Monday, March 4th the MAIA got word of the impending vote this week on H.R. 3370. In response, the MAIA sent out a Flash Bulletin to its members on Tuesday morning urging independent agents to contact their Congressional Representatives.
“I think we had a tremendous response to the Flash Bulletin,” explained Dan Foley of the MAIA. “We got notice on Monday, sent it [the Flash Bulletin] on Tuesday morning …and within one or two hours we had a tremendous response.”
Overall Foley says some 350 MAIA members ultimately contacted their Congressman, both via email and on the phone. The result was the entire Massachusetts Delegation voted in favor of the Bill. “We were quite pleased by this,” adds Foley. “We feel something had to be done, to mitigate this rate shock that was unintentionally caused by Biggert Waters.” For example, says Foley, “We’ve heard some horror stories…one woman in Marshfield, her renewal for flood insurance was $62,000.” And so with stories like these that you hear, “unless something was done, someone would lose their home over it.”
“I applaud the U.S. House for acting to reverse many of the harmful impacts of the Biggert-Waters Act by passing reform measures last night,” AG Coakley said. “This legislation takes a balanced approach and brings much needed relief to communities, homeowners and businesses at a pivotal point in our nation’s economic recovery, in addition to requiring transparency and collaboration in FEMA’s process going forward. The Massachusetts congressional delegation ensured that our voices were heard in both the Senate and House. Now I hope both we can quickly come to an agreement on a compromise piece of legislation that ensures the most harmful provisions of Biggert-Waters are reversed once and for all.”
“This represents a major win for independent insurance agents, as Section 207 and the bought/sold provision of Section 205 were the two specific items that the Big ‘I’ has been working on with Congress to find a solution,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ hopes that the Senate and House will quickly resolve the differences between their two version of flood insurance reform in order to provide meaningful relief to consumers harmed by the drastic price increases associated with Biggert-Waters.”