Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman Garamendi Supports Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

March 5, 2014
Press Release

Click the video above to watch Congressman Garamendi speaking on the House Floor about the flood insurance rate spikes experienced by Northern California residents and the need to tackle this problem.

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), who served as California’s State Insurance Commissioner for eight years, voted for and spoke in favor of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 306-91. The legislation addresses an unintended and serious problem stemming from the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012: unreasonably high and immediate increases in flood insurance rates.

“Many of my constituents recently found an unwelcome surprise in their mail box: a massive spike in their flood insurance bill,” Garamendi said. “The bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will help some of these Northern California residents by slowing down rate increases and lessoning the financial burden for certain houses. This is an important first step.”

Three provisions in particular would provide immediate relief to Californians in the 3rd District:

1.      It ensures that no policyholder will experience a dramatic rate increase from the sale of a home or a lapse in policy.

2.      It restores grandfathered rates for individuals who previously built their houses to code and now face rate increases from remapping.

3.      It sets a property rate increase cap so that no individual rate increase will exceed 18 percent.

“We must also recognize that even if this bill becomes law tomorrow, FEMA’s system for mapping and setting rates needs significant improvement. Because of the new maps and regulations, too many Americans are in homes facing steep hikes in their flood insurance rates beyond their means to pay and beyond a reasonable assessment of the risk,” Garamendi added. “I will continue to advocate for additional changes to make this insurance system predictable and fair for homeowners and taxpayers.”

Congress Garamendi spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of the bill. He was introduced by Financial Services Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) who lauded Garamendi’s work on the bill and said that he “has been advising us that we really do have to make changes in the National Flood Insurance Program.” Text of Congressman Garamendi’s remarks follow and the video is linked here:

I rise in support of the bill and I want to thank Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Grimm for their work.

This is desperately needed. A lot to be said and a lot more work will go into this before this becomes law, but it is a major step forward.

One example: Isleton, California, in my district, in a zone that was mapped with 100 year flood protection [was] downgraded by the Army Corps of Engineers [and is] now a high hazard area. Last year, [a resident paid] $700 a year for the flood insurance. This year $7,000 a year, which is about twice the mortgage on that $115,000 house. [That’s] not workable.

We’re seeing across my area insurance premiums of $10,000 [and] $25,000.

This bill would stop that, move things back, [and] give us time to deal with what is the fundamental problem in flood insurance, and that is the catastrophic coverage, which has to be spread out across the nation.

More to be worked on. Good progress. Good bill. Let’s vote it out of here and get this thing solved.

Summary of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is linked here.