- Florida Senator Rick Scott and Representative Anna Paulina Luna have introduced legislation aimed at addressing the issue of flood insurance affordability in Florida.
- The proposed measures would require FEMA to offer monthly payment options for flood insurance premiums, rather than the current annual lump-sum requirement.
- The Senate bill also includes a grace period for policyholders to maintain coverage even if they miss premium payments, followed by the possibility of additional fees to recover unpaid premiums.
Federal lawmakers from Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna filed legislation in their respective chambers this week to address the issue of flood insurance affordability, particularly in Florida.
If adopted, the measures would mandate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide an option for Floridians to pay their flood insurance premiums on a monthly basis, as opposed to the current annual lump-sum requirement.
“I’m fighting tooth and nail in Washington to fix the broken National Flood Insurance Program, and while this work continues, we need to make sure families have access to affordable coverage,” said Scott. “Allowing Floridians to make monthly payments for flood insurance, instead of being billed in one lump sum, is good, commonsense policy.”
The Senate bill would also establish a grace period during which policyholders of flood insurance coverage, both new and existing, would remain covered even if they do not pay their premiums. The period would begin upon the enactment of the legislation and last for 30 days after FEMA makes a monthly premium payment option available to policyholders.
After the grace period ends, the bill would permit the Administrator of FEMA to assess an extra monthly fee on policyholders who choose to pay their flood insurance coverage premiums on a monthly basis. This fee is calculated to recover, on a cumulative basis, the amount of premiums unpaid during the grace period. Luna’s bill is largely identical to Scott’s
“I’m proud to see that Senator Scott has introduced the Senate companion to my bill, the Flood Insurance Affordability Act, when it’s needed most,” said Luna. “Following Hurricane Idalia, relieving the burden of expensive flood insurance costs became an immediate priority. FEMA needs to follow the law so that those impacted don’t have to wipe out their savings accounts and have more flexibility in an economy that’s already rocked by high prices.”
Recent changes to FEMA’s flood insurance rates have drawn fire from multiple states, including Florida, as local governments with high concentrations of homes in vulnerable, low-lying areas fear the hikes could stifle economic growth and lead to a decline in property values.
In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Darrel Papillion that was part of a broader legal challenge involving multiple states, the consortium of states sought to block the rate increases through an injunction. Other participating states include Louisiana, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
The federal changes, which FEMA says aim to more accurately reflect the risks and costs of flood damage, could result in a significant financial burden for many homeowners, the states allege, and pose challenges for governments that rely on property taxes to stay solvent.
Officials in Louisiana, for example, testified that the new rates could have a stark financial impact on working-class communities, causing some to abandon their homes or forgo insurance altogether. Matt Jewell, president of St. Charles Parish, west of New Orleans, noted that new construction has already slowed down in anticipation of the federal flood insurance rate increases.