Delay of flood insurance rate hikes just a start

The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate last week includes an 18-month delay in the exploding flood insurance premiums many of our region’s homeowners are being hit with as a result of the Biggert-Waters Act.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Howard Republican who represents some of our region, called the delay a “victory” and said he and Rep. Tom Marino, a Cogan Station Republican, will use the time to find ways to keep the flood insurance rates from rising so drastically. He pointed out the delay does not apply to people who bought homes after July 2012, when the act went into effect, or to property owners who properties are classified as “severe repetitive loss properties.”

Putting a noose on the severity of the rate increases long-term will be an uphill battle.

House Speaker John Boehner said last week repeal of the act, meant to replenish the depleted flood insurance fund, won’t be repealed. The head of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, of Texas, also opposes a repeal.

Boehner said alternative ideas will be considered. Boehner has a tough job, but he and the GOP majority in the House are missing a golden opportunity if they don’t repeal the act and find other means to replenish the flood insurance fund.

Republicans are constantly being lambasted – often unjustly as fatcats who are out of touch with regular people. In this case, regular people are watching their flood insurance rates unfairly going from hundreds of dollars a year to thousands of dollars a year, often with no justification. Homeowners who weren’t considered in the floodplain before are now in it due to new mapping by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Realtors are fearing a stagnated market because homeowners can’t pass their subsidies on when selling their houses.

If Boehner and other Republicans don’t act to solve this insurance/real estate crisis, they will be doing significant harm to the housing market and indicating they, indeed, aren’t in touch with the real-life impact of this legislation.