Congressman Luke Messer

Representing the 6th District of Indiana

House provides financial relief for struggling Hoosier homeowners

Mar 6, 2014
Editorial

House provides financial relief for struggling Hoosier homeowners

This week the House provided financial relief for the hundreds of Hoosier homeowners struggling to pay skyrocketing flood insurance premiums.  H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA), eliminates many of the unintended consequences of a 2012 overhaul of the federal flood insurance program referred to as the Biggert-Waters Act. 

The purpose of Biggert-Waters was to make the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) solvent, especially following major disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that caused billions of dollars in damage.  Though it was well-intended, Biggert-Waters imposed undue financial burdens on homeowners living in flood-prone areas.  It also put our nation’s housing recovery at risk and had a devastating impact on many Hoosier families in the 6th District.

Under Biggert-Waters, homeowners in Indiana faced premium increases that were nearly impossible for many middle-class families to afford.   I heard from constituents in Dearborn, Jefferson, Henry, Ohio, Wayne and Switzerland Counties who were concerned they would have to leave their homes because they couldn’t afford their increased rates.  Property values started to decrease as homebuyers steered clear of homes affected by the new Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) flood maps.  On top of those concerns, thousands of homeowners have questioned the accuracy of the maps created by FEMA, causing them to appeal their rate increases. 

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act is a response to these concerns. Under the HFIAA, insurance premium increases are capped at a more manageable 15 percent per year.  The HFIAA allows policy owners to pay their premiums on a monthly basis instead of in one lump sum.  It reinstates grandfathering, so homeowners who built their home to code at the time of construction are not unfairly punished because of changing flood maps.  It also eliminates the sales trigger that was causing new owners to face unmanageable premium hikes and harming the housing market.  Under HFIAA, property owners who win appeals over the new FEMA flood maps will be reimbursed as will those who were charged higher flood insurance rates on homes that were built before the new FEMA flood risk maps were drawn.   

It is important to get the NFIP on solid fiscal footing, but not at the expense of forcing hardworking Hoosiers from their homes.  The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act ensures homeowners and home values are protected while working to secure the NFIP for years to come.