U.S. Senate Passes Bill Delaying Jump in Flood Insurance Rates

Jan 30, 2014

Rhode Island’s senators are applauding a 67- 32 vote passing legislation that delays a spike in flood insurance premiums. Sen. Jack Reed said the Senate took a positive, bi-partisan step, while Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called the measure a necessary step to balance solvency of the federal flood insurance program with rate shock.

Sen. Jack Reeds holds a press conference after the Senate passed legislation that delays flood insurance rate hikes.
Credit Courtesy: Sen. Jack Reed's Office

Changes made two years ago to shore up the federal flood insurance program drastically increased insurance premiums for homes in flood-prone areas.  A report out of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency shows more than 1,600 federal flood insurance policies were issues in Rhode Island.

Reed said a four-year delay will give the Federal Emergency Management Agency time to come up with a better way to set premiums.  “If you have adequate flood maps that measure the physical exposure of property together with estimates about the frequency of storms,” Reed said. “You do all of that, put all of that together, and set a rate.”

Critics of the bill said it will unravel reform to the federal flood insurance program. Environmentalists have criticized the bill for sheltering people from the effects of climate change. Whitehouse disagrees.

“I think it would be unduly harsh to have families suffer in this way, just because the climate is changing,” said Whitehouse. “They’re going to see that in a lot of different ways. But getting the pricing right for this I think is a good outcome. And having the pricing wrong, which I think in some cases it probably was, isn’t a really fair way to send a message about climate change.”

The bill faces an uncertain future over in the House, but both Reed and Whitehouse think some version will make it to the president’s desk.

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