The News-Star, Monroe, La., on FEMA and flood insurance
The News-Star, Monroe, La., on FEMA and flood insurance:
Although passed into law last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not enacted lower flood insurance premiums promised by the legislation.
Sens. David Vitter, R-La., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., co-authored a letter Thursday to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate asking him to explain why property owners are still paying high insurance rates despite the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.
“Are you kidding us?” Vitter said in a statement. “It’s been nearly a month since we’ve passed the law, and FEMA has done virtually nothing to protect flood insurance policyholders. FEMA needs to take action immediately because if policies lapse, people could literally lose their homes — a risk that new rates would protect against.”
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., authored a letter to FEMA days after the bill became law calling for swift action from the agency to implement the law. On Thursday, she also called on FEMA to act.
“Our constituents cannot afford to pay $10,000 or $20,000 premiums and wait around for refunds. Subsidized rates must be restored immediately, and I will continue to hold FEMA accountable until this bill is fully implemented,” Landrieu said.
The new law is aimed at controlling the skyrocketing premiums people in the national flood insurance program experienced after a 2012 law was passed to make the flood program solvent. The new law lowers current rates and limits premium increases to no more than 18 percent per year.
“We understand that implementing the recently enacted Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will take time. It is completely unacceptable, however, that since President Obama signed the law on March 21, 2014, you have not made it a priority to protect these policyholders,” the letter read.
A FEMA spokesperson said the agency is working with private insurance partners to implement the law as quickly as possible. The agency posted an information packet online about priorities in implementing the new law.
“It is not possible for changes to happen immediately. While the new law does require some changes to be made retroactively, applying to certain policies written after July 6, 2012, other changes require establishment of new programs, processes and procedures,” FEMA’s packet read in part.
Let’s hope pressure from the Senate helps speed relief for the thousands of Louisiana homeowners affected by the dramatic increases in flood insurance rates.