Flood insurance rate increases delayed

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - Those huge increases expected in flood insurance premiums will be delayed at least two years for some policyholders.

Congressman Steven Palazzo's office announced Thursday that FEMA will not move forward with raising flood insurance premiums on those homeowners with grandfathered policies.

In 2012, Congress passed The Biggert-Waters Act with the intent of making the National Flood Insurance Program financially solvent. However, Biggert-Waters is blamed for bringing about huge increases in premiums, which could make flood insurance too expensive for thousands of Mississippians. As the new rules were about to take effect in October, Congress began scrambling to delay them.

Here's what happened to bring about the delay some rate increases: Last month, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, also known as the Omnibus spending bill, which was signed by the president. That bill prohibits FEMA from spending any money on implementing or enforcing Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Act. Congressman Steven Palazzo told WLOX News FEMA decided that law put the rate hikes on hold.

"In the initial delay language that was crafted in the House, we made sure to halt all FEMA activity to implement these drastic rate increases on some homeowners," Palazzo explained. "Because of that language, FEMA admitted today that our actions will have much further reaching impact on their ability to enact rate increases. This could buy homeowners as much time as two extra years as we continue to fight flawed and unfair FEMA practices and work to enact further reforms in both houses of Congress."

This delay does not impact all flood insurance policy holders, only the grandfathered policies. Palazzo said work is still being done to get relief to all those facing rate increases.

FEMA plans to continue remapping flood zones and exercising its authority to set premium rates.

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