Flood insurance

In this section are the articles I have written about flood insurance as a result of the passage of the Biggert-Waters Act and leading to the new 2014 Act which rolled back the impact of most of that legislation.

Marblehead to vote on new flood maps 
Becky Curran, Town Planner, has put together this FAQ about the proposal. Note that this action is to approve the maps. The FAQ clearly explains the separate provisions, which affect flood insurance, in the new Act passed recently to overhaul Biggert-Waters.

Senate passes House Flood Insurance Bill:President expected to sign into Law
The Senate this week passed, on a 72-22 vote, the Bill the House passed last week. The White House said that President Obama would sign it into law.

Bipartisan Congress votes to roll back impact of 2012 legislation
Both the Senate and House have passed bills on bipartisan votes (Senate 67-32, House 306-91) to reverse the impact of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act. The Senate now has the option of either accepting the House Bill or seeking to negotiate the differences between the two Bills. Press reports on Friday indicated that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will schedule a vote next week on the House-passed legislation.

Widespread flooding hits the UK: a different approach to flood insurance

With the whole of England under flood warning, this post looks at the UK approach to flood insurance. Flood is covered under standard homeowners policies, while a new reinsurer, Flood Re, is being set up to cover high risk properties.

What’s Up between Harry Reid and President Obama?
So let me try to get this straight. On Monday the Senate voted to proceed with debate on the HFIA Act and on Monday night the President issued a statement in support of the original Act, but the Senate passed the Bill anyway on Thursday. On Tuesday the President talked of his desire to see free-trade deals and on Wednesday Mr.Reid said, in effect, no.

Senate to vote Monday on bill to delay
According to an article in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, the US Senate is finally scheduled to vote on Monday to allow debate to proceed on legislation to delay flood premium increases .
To summarize my previous posts on this subject:
– only a small percentage of homes in flood zones carry insurance
– the NFIP has worked well with the exception of major catastrophes
– Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act without understanding the consequences
– FEMA was supposed to complete an affordability study before implementing new rates, but didn’t
– an independent study suggests that FEMA “used a mapping method fit for the Pacific coast, where the wave periods are much longer and the beaches are straighter, instead of developing a correct approach for New England.”

Vote to delay Act set for early January
According to multiple media reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to fast track legislation for a January vote that would require 60 votes and there are reported to be enough support to pass it. The proposed legislation would delay the implementation of the new flood rates for up to 4 years.

Are the new maps accurate?
As Congress continues to bicker over reforming the Biggert-Waters Act (this week one Republican Senator blocked the unanimous consent required to move forward one Bill delaying the implementation of the new rates) a concern has been raised about the accuracy of the new maps for Massachusetts.

Independent coastal experts say the federal government used outdated wave methodology better fit for the Pacific coast when they drafted the new flood maps. As a result, they say, the government over-predicted flooding that would occur during a 100-year storm for much of the State.

The facts
While waiting to hear whether Congress will take up a bill to delay the implementation of the new flood insurance premiums they voted into law before they understood the consequences ( telling the National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP, which is losing money to end subsidies and go to full actuarial rates results in premiums going up. Apparently nobody in Congress took any economics courses in college and this has come as a surprise to them – or maybe it was just because they don’t read Bills before voting on them), I have been digging into the history of the NFIP. In particular I have looked at the record of Massachusetts as a whole, by County and by Town.

Part One
I plan to write regularly on flood insurance, so please regard this as the first in a series. It does not have all the answers because the story is still unfolding. Two things to bear in mind are that flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowner policy and that flooding occurs throughout the country, not just in coastal areas.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, MA.

Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark licensed to Sotheby’s International Realty 
Affiliates LLC. Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated.

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