BigNews.Biz - Mar 16,2017 - Menendez Outlines Sweeping Reforms to FEMA’s Broken National Flood Insurance Program
Menendez slams Trump plan to charge NJ homeowners, flood victims for Mexican border wall
LITTLE FERRY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Sandy Task Force and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, laid out a series of robust reforms to the much-maligned National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that experienced widespread failures and fraud, cheating storm victims and hampering recovery in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Sen. Menendez aims to make the NFIP: simple, affordable, fair, efficient and accountable to consumers and taxpayers.
“Americans deserve a program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” Sen. Menendez said. “If we want a more sustainable system, the answer isn’t to slam homeowners with even higher rates. The answer is to go after the waste and abuse that’s rampant throughout FEMA. The National Flood Insurance Program is full of perverse incentives that drive up costs for taxpayers and that hurt homeowners. The principles I’ve outlined would require insurance companies to start spending more of the premium dollars they receive on the customers they are paid to serve.”
The senator also decried the Trump Administration for floating a plan to fund construction of the president’s Mexican border through a surcharge on flood insurance policies, and cuts to the Coast Guard, airport security and disaster recovery assistance for local communities.
“The idea that Mexico was ever going to pay for a giant wall along our southern border was laughable, but the notion that New Jersey homeowners should pay for it is unconscionable,” said Sen. Menendez. “Tacking another surcharge onto flood insurance premiums would likely put policies out of reach many homeowners across New Jersey and throughout our country.”
Congress is beginning to debate reauthorization of the NFIP, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2017. The first hearing before the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled for tomorrow.
Sen. Menendez’s prescription for NFIP reform will address the following:
Build on the success of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) by going further to make rates more affordable, particularly for low and middle income families
Repeal arbitrary surcharges on homeowners, both primary and non-primary, and businesses
Bring common sense to the “earth movement” exception in order to simplify things for homeowners and ensure they get the resources they need to rebuild
Redefine basement exemption so homeowners can better understand what is and what is not covered in event of a flood
Return NFIP to solvency by eliminating or transferring its debt to the general fund, and by halting $400 million in annual interest payments to Treasury
Extend the 60-day deadline to appeal a claim to FEMA
Enforce the 90-day deadline for FEMA to adjudicate an appeal, and award the appellate the full amount of their appeal if FEMA does not comply with