The sweeping changes to the National Flood Insurance Program imposed by recent federal legislation continue to have a broad impact at the state level. As federal flood insurance subsidies are gradually withdrawn, states are examining how they can close the gap to make the increasing premiums more affordable. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives just introduced House Bill 1299 — the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force Act (the “Act”). Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation with about 83,000 miles of waterways. In 2012, as a result of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and other related legislation in 2014, premiums for flood insurance have skyrocketed making coverage out of reach for many property owners. In addition, FEMA’s continued re-mapping efforts have resulted in the re-designation of properties, once in low to moderate flood risk areas, to high-risk flood zones, resulting in a corresponding increase in flood insurance premiums.
The Act is designed to help property owners faced with premium increases. If enacted, the Act will establish a task force charged with reviewing and analyzing the laws and procedures regarding the administration of flood insurance. Within six months of the effective date, the task force is expected to issues a final report to the Governor and the legislature recommending the following:
- Potential programs that provide premium discounts;
- Potential programs that create incentives for local governments to undertake or continue flood mitigation efforts; and
- Implementation of changes in state statutes and practices, policies and procedures relating to the administration of flood insurance
The creation of the task force is just the latest in a series of efforts to minimize the impact of rising flood insurance premiums on consumers. Earlier this year, Representative Thomas P. Murt of Southeastern Pennsylvania also introduced House Bill 1029 — The Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Program Act. House Bill 1029 proposes a program that will provide eligible homeowners with a 15% flood insurance premium subsidy designed to encourage the purchase of flood insurance. Both Bills have been referred to the Legislature’s Insurance Committee and are awaiting a vote. Similar initiatives are being pursued by states throughout the country.