For Immediate Release - March 21, 2014

AG Coakley Statement on President Signing Legislation That Addresses Unfair Flood Insurance Rate Increases

BOSTON – In an effort to prevent massive flood insurance rate hikes for homeowners across the country, President Obama today signed into law bi-partisan legislation that limits rate increases to 18 percent per year, and calls on FEMA to limit premiums to 1 percent of the total coverage of each policy. Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has staunchly opposed the rate increases, issued this statement:

“I thank President Obama for signing into law bi-partisan legislation that reverses many of the harmful impacts of the Biggert-Waters Act. This will bring much needed relief to communities, homeowners and businesses at a pivotal point in our economic recovery. We have long advocated for relief for communities in flood zones by filing legislation on the state level and by working with our congressional representatives to push for these federal changes. I again thank the Massachusetts congressional delegation for ensuring that our voices were heard in both the Senate and House.”

BACKGROUND:

In September, AG Coakley spoke at the “Make Waves” rally in Scituate alongside State Representatives Jim Cantwell and Garrett Bradley, State Senator Robert Hedlund, Congressman Stephen Lynch and other local elected officials, calling on Congress and FEMA to reform new flood insurance laws. In October, AG Coakley sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) urging the delay of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act until FEMA complies with Congress’ mandate to undertake an affordability review and a peer review of the new flood zone maps defined in the bill.

In November, AG Coakley filed an amicus brief supporting a Mississippi lawsuit alleging the new flood rates are arbitrary and unlawful. The brief argues that FEMA failed to collect accurate data before implementing the new rates.

AG Coakley recently testified in support of legislation at the state level that she filed with House Speaker Robert DeLeo to cap the amount of flood insurance mortgage lenders may require of homeowners. The proposed legislation, An Act Relative to Flood Insurance, would prohibit creditors from requiring homeowners to purchase flood insurance in an amount that exceeds the outstanding balance of their mortgage, requiring coverage for contents, or including a deductible of less than $5,000.

Other notable measures in the bill signed by the President include the restoration of a grandfathering provision that prevents a homeowner from facing large rate increases when new flood maps are implemented, the ability for a purchaser to retain a home’s existing flood insurance policy after a sale and a process for FEMA to refund people who already paid higher premiums.

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