GNO, Inc. Releases Letter Urging Congress To Keep Flood Insurance Affordable

NEW ORLEANS, La. (10/01/2013) — Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. released a letter signed by one hundred and nine business and civic associations nationwide urging the House Financial Services Committee to keep flood insurance affordable. The letter was signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of REALTORS®, Independent Community Bankers of America, and Community Associations Institute.

“The breadth of organizations signing our letter demonstrates that flood insurance affordability is a national issue,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As rates begin to rise today on certain business and homeowners, it is more imperative that Congress and FEMA act as soon as possible to keep flood insurance affordable for people who have played by the rules. Implementing Biggert-Waters as it currently stands will destroy the wealth of thousands of innocent Americans who have done exactly as the government has told them, maintained insurance and often never flooded. To proceed with implementation would be both economically unwise and morally unjust.”

The letter to the House Financial Services Committee urges Congress to consider longer-term legislation to balance fiscal responsibility with premium affordability. It also urges Congress to delay premium increases until FEMA submits its congressionally mandated affordability report and to include properties purchased after July 6, 2012 in a delay. Under current law, pre-firm properties purchased after the date of enactment, July 6, 2012, were required to immediately increase to full actuarial rates without a phase in period.

An excerpt from the letter outlines the potential devastating effects if Congress does not act: “This drastic increase in premiums will cause property values and assessments to drop, bank mortgages to go into default, local tax bases to erode, and economies to be eviscerated. And ironically, while the intended effect of the removal of grandfathering was to make the NFIP solvent, it will have the opposite effect because homeowners and business owners will be forced to drop out of the program completely.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Since May 2013, GNO, Inc. has organized a growing national coalition of business and elected leaders to address harmful changes to the NFIP. As founders of the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI), the organization works to address drastic ­ and unintended ­ increases to NFIP rates for home and business owners. A confluence of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (meant to stabilize NFIP), incomplete FEMA maps and questionable actuarial calculations has led to premium increases of up to 3,000% and more ­ for policy-owners who have never flooded. CSFI now represents over sixty organizations from states across the Gulf and East Coasts. Since GNO, Inc. began its work on this issue, legislation delaying implementation of Section 207 of Biggert-Waters has passed the full U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee.