Dozens of lawmakers urge more flood insurance reforms

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WASHINGTON — A group of 64 House lawmakers is pushing congressional leadership to incorporate premium caps and address a new methodology for assessing risk in flood insurance reform legislation that the Financial Services Committee advanced in June.

The flood insurance bill sponsored by Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., drew bipartisan praise during the committee debate, including from Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the panel's top Republican.

The legislation would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program for five years, require disclosure of property-specific risks for homeowners and homebuyers, update maps to create new flood zones, and enable individuals with non-NFIP policies to return to the program without penalty.

But in a letter sent Friday to House leadership, dozens of members of Congress — led by Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., Garret Graves, R-La., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and David Rouzer, R-N.C., among others — expressed concern that Waters’ bill could increase premiums for some consumers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Risk Rating 2.0, a new methodology for assessing a property’s flood risk, is set to go into effect next year, and the lawmakers argue that the new tool “could lead to increased premiums, forcing homeowners to drop coverage, or even worse, lose their home,” the letter said.

There are also many unknowns about the new methodology, the lawmakers argued, such as impacts to grandfathered policies, the sources of the data that will be used to calculate risk and how risk would be calculated for properties located behind levee systems.

“With Risk Rating 2.0 on the horizon, we encourage you to do everything possible to prevent premium spikes for our constituents,” the letter said. “Our constituents cannot suffer from a double-digit rate increase in addition to the fees and surcharges FEMA could impose on policy holders under Risk Rating 2.0.”

Congress has been unable to pass long-term flood insurance reform for years, and has had to extend the NFIP nearly a dozen times since the 2017 fiscal year.

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Flood insurance Law and regulation Mortgages Natural disasters Maxine Waters Patrick McHenry House Financial Services Committee FEMA