The Governors of Florida and Alabama filed an Amicus brief in a lawsuit brought by Mississippi against the federal government over flood insurance rate hikes. Mississippi filed suit just before rate hikes took effect in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act into law. This act was adopted to fund the federal government’s flood insurance program which is heavily in debt. It requires yearly rate hikes for those in need of flood insurance based on programmatic studies.
Florida and Alabama argued that FEMA has not performed adequate studies related to the act and that the act’s amendments are arbitrary. Florida and Alabama argued that the rate hikes will make flood insurance policies unaffordable to residents of those states as rates could increase up to 3000 percent.
The arguments continued, alleging that FEMA’s information is outdated and inaccurate and that the rate hikes are not in accordance with the risk.
Last month, Democratic Representative Maxine Waters put forth a bipartisan proposal to arrest hikes in flood insurance rates for the next 4 years. The proposal would do away with rate hikes and freeze the current rates for the time being. The rate increases would then begin two years after FEMA completes the study mandated under the Biggert-Waters Act regarding affordability. This study is expected to take two years and, therefore, the rate increases would go into effect in four years.
Whether or not the rate hikes go into effect, there is bound to be controversy. The National Flood Insurance Program is currently $28 billion in debt to the U.S. taxpayers and has not repaid any loans since 2010. Meanwhile, the current act could increase some homeowners’ rates as much as 3,000 percent, making it impossible to afford flood insurance. Others, believing that people should learn to not live in areas where hurricanes and floods are regular occurrences, support the rate hike to foster more sustainable living habits.