Addressing the effects of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act on Florida’s communities was adopted as a federal advocacy priority for the Association this past fall.
Braving the polar vortex, FAC staff this week traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the Florida Congressional Delegation and to advocate on behalf of its member counties for passage of legislation that would provide property owners with relief from dramatic insurance premium increases. Passed in October 2012, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (BW-12) was designed to raise insurance rates to reflect true flood risk and bring solvency to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is $24 billion in debt.
FAC was joined by Pinellas County’s Commission Chair Karen Seel and Wendy Nero, FAC President Bryan Desloge and FAC Executive Director Chris Holley, along with Miami-Dade’s Bill Couch and Phillip Drujak, Doug Callaway and Brett Bolton from the Governor’s Washington Office and Van Scoyoc Associates’ Greg Burns representing Lee and Charlotte counties. Pinellas, Miami-Dade and Lee counties are some of the areas most heavily impacted by the unintended flood insurance premium increases caused by BW-12.
During the visit to Capitol Hill, the FAC delegation met with the offices of Florida’s Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. The U.S. Senate is set to take up the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S.1846) in the coming weeks that would, among other things, provide a four-year delay in premium increases for "grandfathered" properties.
While not a cure-all for Florida, the bill is an important first step toward providing homeowners relief from skyrocketing insurance bills. At the same time, it would provide an opportunity for FEMA to complete an affordability study and for Congress to develop affordability and mitigation strategies that reform the NFIP program without unduly burdening property owners. Senator Nelson is a co-sponsor of S.1846 and Senator Rubio also announced his support for the legislation on Thursday evening.
In the House, FAC also met with U.S. Representatives Kathy Castor, Joe Garcia, Rich Nugent, Steve Southerland and Ted Yoho along with staff from the offices of Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Alcee Hastings, Patrick Murphy, Jeff Miller, Tom Rooney, and Dennis Ross. Florida's delegation has actively engaged in the debate over provisions of BW-12 that burden Florida’s residents and businesses, sponsoring or co-sponsoring a number of proposals to delay rate increases. The delegation held a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the issue and solutions. H.R. 3370, the House companion to S. 1846, faces an uphill climb despite 172 sponsors. The House has indicated it will take up flood insurance reform in weeks ahead.