Florida Keys Congressman Carlos Curbelo and fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy introduced a flood insurance bill that would provide economic relief to an important and large segment of the Keys and Florida’s economic and population — second homeowners and rental property owners.
Curbelo, a Republican from South Florida, and Murphy, a Democrat from Miami, introduced H.R. 2918, the Flood Insurance Fairness Act of 2015, on Thursday. If passed, the bill would extend caps on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance rates to second homes and rental properties in coastal areas.
“Often times, these rental properties not only serve as primary income for the landlords, but also provide reasonably priced housing for the workforce in our coastal communities,” Curbelo said. “This bill is critical to South Florida, especially Monroe County and the residents living in the Florida Keys. It’s important that we protect the real estate market and small businesses of hard-working Americans everywhere.”
Last year, Congress approved the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which limited flood insurance rate increases on people’s primary homes in coastal areas of the country like the Florida Keys. The bill did not provide protections for second homeowners and the owners of commercial properties.
“Last year, by working with members of both parties, we made significant, positive changes to the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure Floridians’ rates did not skyrocket,” Murphy said. “As we continue to improve upon that legislation, it’s more important than ever for us to ensure access to affordable flood insurance. This is an important piece of legislation that will have a dramatic impact on businesses and middle-class families across Florida.”
The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability and Flood Insurance Fairness acts are meant to counteract the impacts of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which extended the NFIP for five years. The Affordability and Fairness acts limit annual rate increases from five to 15 percent on average until the properties reach a rate that is actuarially sound.
By comparison, the Biggert-Waters Act required those covered by the NFIP to pay more than 20 percent increases a year.
Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers went to Washington D.C. in February and spoke with Curbelo about protections for second and rental property owners, Carruthers said. The county’s lobbyist also submitted proposed language for the bill to Curbelo’s staff, she said.
“I am happy that he filed the bill, but I am not sure if it is going to pass because some of the players who blocked those provisions last time are still there,” said Carruthers, who serves on the board of FIRM (Fair Insurance in Monroe).
A big opponent of rate caps for second and rental property owners was Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas and the chair of the House’s Financial Services Committee. The bill will have to pass through that committee to be approved.
“Our motto has been that a building is a building and should be rated in regard to what hazard it can sustain, no matter what activity is going on inside of it,” Carruthers said.
Source: Keys News