House passes flood insurance bill

Prompted by rising concern, the House of Representatives passed flood insurance legislation with strong homeowner protections on Tuesday. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act passed by a vote of 306 to 91, with the support of local Congressman Brad Wenstrup.

“I’ve heard from Ohioans across my district that the current flood insurance regime is unworkable, and fraught with murky maps and overnight rate hikes,” Wenstrup said. Many property owners along the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers have seen flood insurance premiums skyrocket in recent months due to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

The 2012 legislation was intended to increase currently subsidized flood insurance premiums, but the new rate increases proved too steep for many home owners and imposed severe economic burdens on communities across the country.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the flood insurance program, has been criticized for faulty flood maps and failing to adequately communicate steep rate changes to homeowners.

The new legislation contains homeowner protections including a required affordability study and appeals process, while user fees and minimum annual rate increases help ensure that premiums reflect a property’s true flood risk.

“The National Flood Insurance Program must move towards solvency, which this bill accomplishes, while giving current homeowners the flexibility to adapt to the new rates,” Wenstrup said. “I’m glad the House could pass this commonsense legislation that protects Ohio’s river communities. While the Senate bill simply delays solutions, this bill addresses the problem head-on.”

The Senate passed different flood insurance legislation in February, which would simply delay reforms, and the two Congressional bodies must reconcile differences before a final bill is made law.