Congressman Garamendi Votes to Improve and Expand Flood Insurance, Better Protecting Residents of the Delta
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a former Deputy Interior Secretary, today voted for important legislation that will help residents living in floodplains in the Sacramento-Delta region and across America attain better flood insurance. The Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010, H.R. 5114, passed by a 329-90 vote.
"We learned harsh lessons in California following the devastating 1995 floods along the Russian River. Far too many families lost everything because they didn’t have flood insurance," said Congressman Garamendi, a longtime resident of the Delta. "This reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program will increase participation in flood insurance and improve coverage for millions of Americans."
The bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years and is intended to address and highlight those reforms deemed most essential for the immediate and near-term fiscal and administrative health of the NFIP. The bill also takes steps to ensure NFIP’s continued viability over the longer term, by encouraging broader participation, increasing financial accountability, eliminating those premium subsidies that are unnecessary, and updating the flood insurance program to meet the needs of the 21st century. More than five million homes and businesses currently rely on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
"Most hydrologists agree that the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta together with New Orleans are the two most vulnerable flood prone regions in the nation," Garamendi added. "Today’s House vote improving access to flood insurance is a good start. Tomorrow we must get serious about strengthening our levees system before it’s too late."
The Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010:
- Raises maximum coverage limits for flood insurance policies. New coverage limits are $335,000 (up from $250,000) for residences; $135,000 (up from $100,000) for residential contents; and $670,000 (up from $500,000) for nonresidential properties. This marks the first increase in coverage since 1994.
- Creates an installment payment program for flood insurance premiums.
- Increases penalties for lenders misrepresenting legal requirements in order to push borrowers to purchase coverage in excess of that which is legally required.
- Establishes a National Flood Insurance Advocate to assist homeowners and businesses in resolving problems with FEMA related to the flood insurance program.
- Delays the mandatory purchase requirement resulting from new flood maps for five years. Following the 5-year delay, allows for a 5-year phase-in of actuarial rates for newly mapped areas.
- Allows flood mitigation structures built with non-federal funds to be considered for lower flood insurance rates.
- Prohibits the imposition of mandatory purchase requirements on homeowners in communities that relied on data from FEMA to construct levees that subsequently won’t be certified based on new data.