Obama signs flood insurance rewrite

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – On March 21 President Barack Obama signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which includes an amendment co-authored by Louisiana U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. Cassidy discussed the Grimm-Cassidy amended version of the HFIAA, which he helped to write and pass through Congress, at a town hall meeting in Destrehan on March 24. 

“We are extremely pleased that President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act into law so quickly,” said St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom. “This is a huge victory for St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana and the nation.”

The HFIAA is the first meaningful legislation to undo the potentially devastating premium increases outlined in the Biggert-Waters Act. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 reformed the National Flood Insurance Program to reduce its dependency on taxpayer funding and address a $24 billion program deficit. New flood insurance rate maps under the measure would have led to sharp increases in premiums.

Highlights of the HFIAA include limiting yearly premium increases to an average of 15 percent per year for each of the nine property categories listed by FEMA, with no individual policyholder paying more than an 18 percent increase per year; urging the NFIP administrator to ensure most policyholders have a premium of no more than 1 percent of the value of coverage; removing the so-called “sales trigger” that would have forced homeowners into actuarial rates when a home changes ownership; and allowing local governments to

be reimbursed for successful flood map appeals.  

River Region residents and elected officials have been instrumental since 2013 in the push to correct key provisions in Biggert Waters, which did away with grandfathering of properties and allowed the NFIP to raise rates in excess of $28,000 per year depending on flood risk zone remapping.

Cassidy said Louisiana has provided crucial leadership on important flood insurance issues, adding local elected officials and parish presidents all played vital

roles in ensuring families would not be susceptible to premium hikes.

“We can not rob people out of their ability to own a home,” Cassidy said.