New Jersey Legislators Tout Flood Insurance Reform Legislation

August 21, 2017

Five years after Superstorm Sandy devastated towns along the New Jersey shore, Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Frank Pallone want changes made to federal flood insurance they said will fix a system that often failed beleaguered homeowners.

Hoboken Recovery After Sandy. Photo: George Armstrong/FEMA

Speaking Thursday on the waterfront in a town that was considered the most heavily damaged by the September 2012 megastorm, the two Democrats described legislation they have proposed that will reauthorize a 2012 flood insurance bill scheduled to expire next month and add key provisions.

Those include a 10 percent cap on flood insurance premium increases, a mechanism to hold the Federal Emergency Management Agency to strict deadlines when paying claims to homeowners and paying for advanced flood mapping technology. Currently, premiums can increase up to 25 percent per year for businesses and 18 percent for homeowners.

Among the senators supporting the bill are Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bill Nelson of Florida, and Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

“Where else does someone see Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren on the same bill?” Menendez said.

Menendez cited the case of a New Jersey family whose annual flood insurance premium rose from $600 to about $30,000 before it was corrected, due to a loophole in the flood mapping process. He said the proposed legislation would close some of the loopholes.

Pallone noted that some of the companies providing flood insurance realized record profits after Sandy even as they were denying New Jersey homeowners’ claims, a situation he called “unconscionable.”

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking an earlier order signed by President Barack Obama that had required projects constructed in flood plains with federal dollars to be built with rising sea levels in mind. Trump has suggested risks from sea level rise caused by climate change are exaggerated.

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