Editorial: Legislation could delay flood insurance premium increases

Louisiana’s congressional delegation is mounting a two-front counter-attack against legislation that, if unchecked, will lead

to huge increases for flood insurance premiums for business and homeowners.

The culprit is the 2012 Biggert-Waters

Flood Insurance Reform Act which was crafted and passed by Congress to

abolish federal

subsidies for the National Flood Insurance Program. But the

unintended consequences, experts say, are likely devastating rate

hikes for flood insurance.

Flood insurance for homes designated in

V or A zones subject to flooding could double for the owners in four

years. One couple

in St. Charles Parish southwest of New Orleans received a flood

insurance premium bill for $28,000 after the Federal Emergency

Management Agency changed the flood elevation in the last few

months and placed the couple’s home in a flood zone.

That type of rate increase will likely put home owners in dire circumstances, and may cause some to abandon their homes.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans,

has teamed with Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the co-author of the Flood

Insurance Reform

Act, to file legislation to delay increases in the insurance

rates. Congressman Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, whose Third

District comprises all of southern Southwest Louisiana, joined

Richmond and Waters as did most of the rest of the Louisiana’s

delegation in the U.S. House.

One the Senate side, Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced legislation intended to correct Biggert-Waters. Named the Strengthen,

Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program, or SMART NFIP, it would delay flood insurance premium increases

and repeal provisions preventing new owners of homes to continue with subsidized rates.

“Flood insurance must be affordable,

accessible and self-sustainable. Biggert-Waters only addressed

self-sustainability at

the cost of homeowners in Louisiana and across the country living

around water,” Landrieu said. “... Flood insurance is not

just about business and commerce. It is about culture; it is about

a way of life; it is about preserving coastal communities;

and it is about being resilient in storms.”

With more than 486,000 flood insurance

policies sold in Louisiana last year, Landrieu has good cause to fight

for her constituents.

She’s likely to pick up some powerful allies along the way, seeing

that Florida ranks first nationally in the number of flood

insurance policies sold, followed by Texas, Louisiana, California,

New Jersey, South Carolina, New York, North Carolina, Virginia

and Georgia.

Removing the federal supplement for flood insurance sounds good in theory, but it also stands to punish business and homeowners

who have followed the rules and now may face economic hardship.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.