Congressman Garamendi Advocates for Affordable Flood Insurance at Bipartisan Congressional Meeting
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), who served as California’s Insurance Commissioner for eight years, spoke during a bipartisan meeting of Members of Congress focused on responsible strategies to ensure affordability in flood insurance reform. Garamendi called for an immediate delay to impending flood insurance rate hikes caused by new flood risk maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Garamendi’s Congressional District includes approximately 200 miles of the Sacramento River.
“The new flood insurance rates demanded by FEMA are absolutely unaffordable,” said Congressman Garamendi. “An immediate delay is urgently needed to keep residents in my district in their homes.”
The potentially astronomic rate increases stem from two sections (205 and 207) in the bipartisan 2012 National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization, which were supposed to phase out federally subsidized flood insurance premiums and gradually move policyholders towards full-risk actuarial rates. However, it was never anticipated that this would cause policyholders to see a huge spike in rates, in some cases by over 4,000%. These spiking flood insurance costs are also likely to lower resale potential and further impede recovery of the housing market in already vulnerable areas of our nation. The rate changes are in large part due to new FEMA maps that significantly raise the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and expand flood zones – meaning more residents will be affected.
The Congressman has lived in the Sacramento Delta farming town of Walnut Grove for decades. He and his neighbors know firsthand that affordable flood insurance is crucial for the livelihoods of people who live in flood zones.
Earlier this year, the House voted to pass a separate amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would have delayed the implementation of increases under Section 207 for one year. The amendment passed the House on a widely bipartisan basis. Members in both the House and the Senate are continuing to push for inclusion of this amendment in any appropriate legislative vehicle.
Garamendi is a cosponsor of H.R. 2199, the Flood Insurance Implementation Reform Act of 2013, which would delay the rate hike.
Garamendi added, “In addition to pushing for an immediate delay, I will continue to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and Northern California residents to develop a long term solution that meets the needs of my constituents.”