Flood insurance

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Last Thursday, Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker voted with 70 other Senators to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which would temporarily protect homeowners in flood prone areas from large increases in their insurance premiums.

The bill previously passed the House of Representatives on March 4 with a 306-91 vote and will go to President Obama for his signature.

The bill would reverse a large part of the 2012 overhaul of the flood insurance program, which required updating flood maps and was an attempt to remove subsidized insurance rates that hundreds of thousands of homeowners received.

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“This bill is responsive to the Mississippians I’ve heard from, many of whom are longtime residents or on fixed incomes. Even though they followed all of the government’s rules, they were facing unfair costs and mandates that this legislation will now alleviate,” stated Cochran in a press release.

According to a press release from Wicker’s office, the bill would delay the flood insurance premium increases until FEMA’s “mapping methods are certified as technically sound and an affordability study is completed.”

Pearl River County Director of Planning and Development Ed Pinero said the greatest benefit for homeowners in the county with the new bill is the grandfather clause. Pinero is also the certified flood plain manager for the county.

Pinero said the grandfather clause would allow people who built their homes according to the federal regulations at the time of construction to receive a reduced rate on their flood insurance.

“This is a great thing for Pearl River County and everyone who has flood insurance,” Pinero said.

The bill is just temporary relief for homeowners until actuarial studies can be conducted, Pinero said.

“This bill will provide much-needed relief for families and businesses across Mississippi,” Wicker said in a press release. “Millions of Americans faced massive increases in flood insurance rates, threatening livelihoods and communities nationwide. This compromise will give homeowners some peace of mind, assuring them that their flood insurance rates will not immediately soar from several hundred dollars to the thousands and tens of thousands.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.