Mass. Congressional Delegation Seeks Delay of Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

Massachusetts’ congressional delegation is urging fellow lawmakers in Washington to delay implementation of the Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Reform Act provisions. The Massachusetts lawmakers said this week the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act could lead to significantly higher flood insurance premiums for coastal property owners with National Flood Insurance Program policies.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts congressional delegation announced that the state’s entire delegation has sent letters to U.S. House and Senate leadership calling for immediate remedies to the consequences of implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act, to “avoid potential dramatic increases in home and business owner insurance premiums.”

Specifically, the lawmakers called for adequate funding for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to complete the affordability study mandated by the law, and a delay in the immediate premium rate increases required by the legislation for small businesses and for sales of residential properties.

The lawmakers say the delay is needed so that any recommendations from the ongoing NAS study could be incorporated into future planning.

“While we support the overall goals of this legislation, we are concerned that if it is fully implemented absent additional measures, some residents and small businesses located in Massachusetts may be faced with economically devastating impacts,” the lawmakers wrote in their letters this week.

“Reports from residents and businesses in Massachusetts have described the potential for dramatic and completely unaffordable flood insurance premium increases as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has moved forward to implement the law.”

The Massachusetts delegation also asked that additional steps be taken as FEMA continues with implementation of the law, including a legislative remedy for any affordability challenges that flood insurance premium hikes might pose to home and business owners; flood maps that are accurate and reflect the input of impacted communities, and improved outreach by FEMA to impacted communities.