Durbin Seeks Delay in Flood Insurance Requirement

September 10, 2010
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Friday asked the Senate Banking Committee to include language in the Senate bill to reauthorize the flood insurance program that would delay the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement for five years in communities with newly designated flood maps across the country.
This language - recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010 (H.R. 5114) - includes a provision that requires communities to provide flood risk and crisis information to residents during this delay.
"As your committee considers hearings and legislative activity on comprehensive flood insurance reauthorization, I encourage you to include legislative language giving relief to communities and homeowners newly mapped into floodplains due to FEMA's flood map modernization program," Durbin wrote. "The (language) complements FEMA's renewed outreach by giving relief to homeowners by delaying the flood insurance purchase requirement for five years. This delay should only be made available to state and local governments that have flood plans in place and provide flood risk and flood crisis information to residents."
Durbin also stressed the importance of understanding flood risk and encouraged residents and businesses to take advantage of flood insurance that currently is available at a deeply discounted rate.
"It is important any statutory delay in the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement is not perceived by homeowners as a sign they are not at risk of flooding," he wrote. "Instead, these homeowners should have affordable flood insurance available to them during this delay and be strongly encouraged to purchase coverage."
In May, Durbin announced that through his efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to offer property owners in the Metro East deeply discounted insurance through the agency's Preferred Risk Policy for two years following the effective date of a map change for owners of buildings newly shown in Special Flood Hazard Areas. This administrative change - implemented without legislation - allows more time for repairing the levees while ensuring that residents and businesses are financially protected in the event of a flood.
Durbin has worked with U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, and federal, state and local officials to prevent residents and businesses from facing unreasonably high flood insurance rates while ensuring that they are financially protected in the event of a flood. Previously, in response to a 2008 request from Durbin and Costello, FEMA agreed to prevent Illinois residents and businesses from facing significantly higher flood insurance premiums years before their Missouri counterparts. This move leveled the playing field in the St. Louis region and ensured that FEMA's new flood maps would not take effect on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River before they did so on the Missouri side.