Category Archives: Flood Zones

Flood Insurance Reauthorization – Discussion and Opinion

The NFIP needs to be reauthorized by September 30th.  At this point there appears to be two central pieces of legislation and a variety of smaller side pieces being circulated.  Below is my attempt to summarize, not necessarily in an unbiased manner, what is going on.
 
On the House side there are two key bills, one is for a full reauthorization (HR2874) the second that only sets a rate cap (HR2868).  The consensus of the reviews are that HR 2874 will be devastating on coastal communities. HR2874 will remove insurance for repetitive loss properties and make new construction in flood zones uninsurable under the NFIP.  The sponsor has been stated that coastal properties are a drain on the NFIP as these “coastal mansions” cost too much to repair. Forget the fact that flood insurance is capped at $250,000 for everyone.
 
Starting with the new construction aspect, while not promoting construction in “harm’s way” may be a good idea, given the recent Chatham takings case, there could be some significant financial ramification for this. We would have to decide, do we set standards for flood zone construction and allow them to build, probably on a cash basis, without flood insurance? The obvious risk to us would be structures that might eventually be damaged and abandoned that the public might have to foot the bill to remove after tax foreclosure.
 
Relative to repetitive loss properties, every structure within the flood zone is anticipated to have to file a claim eventually. For Dennis, we have over 3,000 residential structures, or 1/5th of our housing units, in the flood zone. If these properties lose flood insurance after filing a claim, the impact will be devastating to the local housing market. Nearly everything south of Lower County Road between the Swan River and Bass River and about a quarter of the homes south of Route 28 across town would be impacted.  The impact would be two-fold, first we would face a housing market collapse within the flood prone area as mortgage companies would be required to turn away from these areas. In areas outside the flood zone, as our second home market would, most likely continue to flourish, would see sky-rocketing property values.  Even if the cash market remained strong in the flood zone, where 2/3rds of the sales in recent years have been cash transactions, there will be a definite downward push on real estate values, and if mortgaged properties are damaged by flooding, we will have properties walked away from which is still adversely impacting parts of New Jersey from Sandy and Mississippi and Louisiana from Katrina.
 
 
 
“The bill would strip federal flood insurance eligibility from certain properties that flood repeatedly, some expensive properties, and new properties built in designated flood zones.”
 
 
Caps flood insurance at $10,000 for a single family home, voted out of Committee along with 2874. I can find no outside summaries as basically this is a very limited scope bill.
 
The Senate Bill is better and seems to be the one that is getting the most support. It is mostly a step in the right direction. It caps rate increases to 10% rather than the 25% that came out of Biggert-Waters and the subsequent “affordability” amendments. Protects affordability, promotes expenditures on mitigation efforts for flood prone properties and freezes interest on FEMA debt to the Treasury for Katrina and Sandy. 
 
In my view, and that of many who have been following this, it does not go quite far enough. There is no insurance required for areas in California and elsewhere for wild fires or mudslides. Oklahomans, Missourians etc. are not required to carry tornado insurance. Rather, national disasters are declared and regular homeowner insurance providers are “rescued” as the federal government covers rebuilding. Flood disasters need to be handled in the same fashion as other “natural disasters” with the federal government recognizing
 
Recently I read about a home in Oklahoma that was being rebuilt for the third time after being hit by a tornado, yet our repetitive loss properties will lose the ability to be insured. There needs to be a limit on the NFIP responsibility for storms. In October and November 2016 the NFIP faced nearly $4 billion in claims from flooding. Up until then it had been a pretty good year for them. These two months probably left the program in the red. For homeowners in these areas (and here) the impact is two-fold. First you have to deal with the flood insurance recovery, but, second, you need to deal with your homeowners policy for “non-flood” damages. In New Jersey, after Sandy, they have found that this means two deductibles that climbed for many as high as $10,000 as insurers push the highest deductibles since “floods only happen once every 100 years” and “who really gets much wind damage?” When you have to find emergency housing, who has $10,000 to spend before you can tap your insurance reimbursement?
 
In the House Committee on Financial Services Rep Maxine Waters (Biggert-Waters Act co-sponsor) called for:
 
 
Given the CBO notes that the program takes in $4.3B in premiums……
 
Anyway, here is a link to the Senate offering that is co-sponsored by Senator Warren, it is probably the best we can hope for, but we should continue to push for perhaps a $2 billion storm cap (wind and flood damage) that turns a Flood Insurance covered event into a national disaster that is funded through grants and not the flood insurance program.
 
 
And a summary document: 
 
 
 
We are trying to get a meeting set up with Congressman Keating and Senator Warren. The timing is short.

N.J. Democrats and Republicans blast Trump plan for flood-insurance hikes

N.J. Democrats and Republicans blast Trump plan for flood-insurance hikes

We will continue to monitor the update to the National Flood Insurance Program. We are working with Representative Tim Whelan to set up a meeting with our Congressman and Senators on this reauthorization.

As reported in this article, many of the proposals will dramatically increase costs to homeowners located in the flood zone. Given actual amounts Dennis residents have received in the past from the NFIP, alternatives are a must.

 

Senate Bill Would Extend National Flood Insurance Program for 10 Years- The Insurance Journal

Senate Bill Would Extend National Flood Insurance Program for 10 Years

We are going to have to watch this. Forgiving the NFIP debt, and Congress taking responsibility for disasters over a particular value,  would level the field with tornadic or wildfire disasters. This is not being proposed. Raising coverage to $500,000, without any guarantee that a policyholder will be able to recover that value misleads the consumer.

As we have a rather vested interest in this, we will add this to the Economic Development Committee agenda.