President Obama signed into law on June 30 the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. Many of us in the insurance industry had been lobbying Washington DC to give us the much-needed reforms and permanency for our flood insurance markets.
Since 2008, the US Congress has let the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) expire 17 times and some of those expirations have impaired a wide variety of real estate transactions. With the passage of this new reform law the NFIP will remain in place for five years without any interruption.
There will be several changes to the flood insurance program; mostly provisions that will make the flood insurance program self-sustaining without the need for an infusion of money to keep the program afloat. Certain properties that are too close to tidal waters will see a phase-out of subsidies. The flood insurance program in the past had maximum annual increases of 10% these will now be increased to 20%.
Other noteworthy provisions of the new law:
- Requires the NFIP Administrator to develop a plan for repaying the debt incurred from Hurricane Katrina
- Mandates that rates for secondary homes, properties with repetitive flood claims and commercial properties will go up 20% over the next five years.
- Policyholders will be allowed to pay in installments instead of one lump sum.
Many of the details of the law will be subject to regulatory interpretation and implementation over the next 2 to 3 years in a serious effort to make the federal program self-sustaining.
What we as consumers can look forward to is a federal program that will have insurance rates much higher than what we have seen in the past and a larger emphasis on encouraging greater private sector participation in providing flood insurance coverage.