To the editor:
Dear Honorable Mandel: Thank you for contacting me with regard to the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program scheduled for implementation under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue, which has a significant impact on Floridians and other coastal states.
As you may know, in 1968, Congress created the NFIP to provide flood insurance for properties with a risk of flood damage. As initial flood risk identified by the NFIP has been updated, many homes and businesses that had been built in compliance with former standards continued to receive discounted rates. After years of discounted premiums and large claims payouts due to flooding from major disasters, the NFIP faced over $22 billion in debt.
In 2012, Congress passed BW12 to address these issues and reform the NFIP. Key provisions of the legislation require premium rate adjustments to reflect a property's true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map updates impact policy holders. The new law phases out subsidized premiums, and the majority of flood insurance rates will now move to reflect true flood risk.
For example, beginning Oct. 1, 2013, subsidized policies on business properties and properties that have suffered severe repetitive flooding and flood-related damage will face a 25 percent premium rate increase annually until rates reflect the property's true flood risk. It is important to note that primary residences will be able to keep their subsidized rates unless the property is sold, the policy lapses, the property suffers severe, repeated flood losses, or a new policy is purchased by the owner. While these changes were made to ensure the solvency of the NFIP, it has become apparent that these changes could negatively impact Florida families.
Please know that while I support reforming the NFIP to ensure its sustainability, I am deeply concerned with the pace of rate increases as well as its potential effect on the housing market and communities in Florida, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to prevent the massive rate hikes and provide a long-term fix for the NFIP. We must enact reforms that ensure manageable rate increases and give working families adequate time to plan for unavoidable rate increases, provide phased in rate increases to avoid devastating our real estate markets, and clarify the premium adjustments that Floridians could face. That is why I will continue working on solutions that work for Florida families, ensure affordability, and preserve a path to solvency.
Thank you again for contacting me. It is an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Florida in the United States Senate. For further information on the NFIP please visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.
United States Senator