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Flood Insurance

BAHEP and national flood insurance coalition score major victory in Congress!

    Last summer, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) joined forces with the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI) to convince members of Congress that the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 (BW-12) would have devastating consequences for many thousands of people and businesses across the nation. Late in the day on March 13, 2014, the Senate passed House Bill 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.
    This legislation significantly changes the Biggert-Waters flood insurance law by addressing a number of unintended consequences stemming from the legislation. It reinstates grandfathered status for properties built to code before flood maps were adopted, allows new purchasers to assume existing flood policies when buying a property, and calls for accurate flood maps and gradual rate increases. It caps the maximum average annual rate increases at 15 percent, creates a new 5 percent minimum average annual rate increase for subsidized and grandfathered properties, caps the maximum annual premium increase at 18 percent of the prior year’s premium for all properties not subject to the higher 25 percent increase for second homes, commercial properties and severe repetitive loss properties. It also directs the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to minimize the number of policies with annual premiums over one percent of the total coverage provided.  The changes will be funded by a $25 surcharge on residential policies and a $250 surcharge on premiums for businesses and non-primary residences.
    BAHEP President Bob Mitchell stated, "To get this kind of bi-partisan support in Congress is outstanding. Everyone in the national coalition worked hard to get this done, and they should be very proud of such a major accomplishment. David Braun at BAHEP spearheaded the effort in Texas, and I want to thank him for the untold number of hours he spent to help get the legislation passed.”
    CSFI is staffed by Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) where Caitlin Berni led the effort.  Mayor Daniel McJunkin of Simonton, TX, sent Berni and Braun a message just after the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 72-22.
    He wrote, "Caitlin and David, congratulations to you both, as well as to everyone across our nation, that helped to make this successful outcome happen. I haven’t seen this level of bi-partisan support in many years. On this issue, our Congress has put partisan brinksmanship aside and did the right thing for the right reason. NONE of it this would have happened without the awareness that was brought to our legislators by groups such as yours.
    "On behalf of the City of Simonton, please thank everyone for the hours and days spent on this issue. Thanks to your strong leadership and organized pursuit of a victory, many thousands of homeowners will be able to keep their homes and their equity. Thanks to you and your respective organizations, the housing markets will remain intact.”
    Braun stated, "The passage of the new bill goes a long way toward fixing the problems caused by BW-12. It no longer imposes drastic rate increases on those who have played by the rules, paid their policies on time, and whose houses and businesses have not flooded. I want to thank those members of Congress who recognized that fixing BW-12 was the right thing to do for the good of their constituents and the country.”
    This legislation, now passed by both the House and the Senate, was sent to  President Obama. He signed it into law on March 21st.

Click on the link above to read H.R. 3370.

Click on the link above to gain a better understanding of H.R. 3370

Click on the link above to read FEMA's overview of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.

All of the work shown below led up to this major victory in Congress!

Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012
Harris County, Texas, economic impact study, September 2013
Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 Impact Analysis
State of Mississippi files lawsuit
What is BAHEP doing on this issue?
Who to contact in Congress?
National Flood Insurance Program's New Rates
Related Articles
BAHEP Position / White Papers on Biggert-Waters
Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI) Important ACTION ALERT


The U.S. Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a Federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance as a protection against flood losses in exchange for State and community floodplain management regulations that reduce future flood damages. Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between communities and the Federal Government. If a community adopts and enforces a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risk to new construction in floodplains, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.

In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. Some of these changes already have occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders.

Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 makes two big changes to the NFIP of which everyone should be aware:

CHANGE 1: Higher Premiums for Buildings Below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)

Congress has instructed FEMA to stop giving premium discounts to properties that are below the BFE, even if they were up to code when built.

CHANGE 2: Pre-FIRM and Grandfathered Rates Phased-Out

In the past, many structures were allowed to keep their original flood-risk rating. This generally occurred when:

  1. The building was built before 1975 or before the community (governing jurisdiction) received its first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). These buildings have often been insured at Pre-FIRM rates, unless the owner opts out of this option.
  2. The building was built Post-FIRM, in compliance with a FIRM, but a more recent FIRM shows the building to be at greater risk of flooding. These buildings have been grandfathered administratively, and were allowed to keep the rate-class (flood zone and building elevation relative to BFE) that applied at the time of construction.
A summary of the contents of the Biggert-Waters Act, compiled by Association of State Floodplain Managers Vice Chair Bill Nechamen and Merrie Inderfurth, Washington liaison, can be read here.

Harris County, Texas, economic impact study, September 2013

This economic impact study, The Effect of Changes in Flood Insurance Premiums on Economic Activity in a Sub-Region of Harris County Precinct 2, analyzes the effect of the Biggert‐Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW‐12) on the constituents of Harris County. It was completed on the behalf of Harris County and prepared by Norex Engineering and Quanticon, LLC. Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership extends its sincere appreciation to Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, Precinct 2, for his efforts in getting the study completed.

The following is a summary of the study’s findings regarding the effect of changes in flood insurance premiums on economic activity in the study area, a sub-region of Harris County Precinct 2:
  • Loss of real estate value - $270,269,940
  • Loss of annual Ad Valorem Tax - $5,829,712, includes $3,264,639 in school taxes
  • Reduction in annual business volume - $43,127,257, immediate loss - $12,249,147
  • Loss of Jobs – 255 jobs, immediate Loss – 75 jobs
  • Annual reduction in personal income - $10,514,422
The report also states, "While the findings above can generally be summarized as outlined, please note that the exposure to localized reductions in property values is particularly severe for Morgan’s Point, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Shoreacres and Taylor Lake Village. Therefore, it can be assumed that the vast majority of the economic impact will be borne by the property owners in these municipalities. Additionally, the study does not reflect all increases in insurance premiums, and select properties will experience substantially higher premium increases than those listed on the example table contained within the study. Economic impacts of the legislation to neighboring geographic regions have not been considered within the scope of this study."

Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 Impact Analysis

CDS Market Research has reviewed the substance of the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 ("HFIAA”) and its predecessor, the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 ("BW-12”), in order to provide some insight regarding the effect of this new legislation on the market value for owner-occupied single-family housing, the consequent effects on property tax revenues for each BAHEP member city, and the new time frame for phasing-out of subsidized premiums. Read the impact analysis here.

State of Mississippi files lawsuit

On September 26, 2013, the state of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against FEMA to prevent flood insurance premium increases. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to find that FEMA was obligated to deliver an affordability study to Congress by this past April, and that it failed to do so. The suit asks the judge to block rate increases until FEMA has done everything the law requires. The document, which thoroughly explains BW-12, can be read here.

What is BAHEP doing on this issue?

On Aug. 6, 2013, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership hosted over 50 representatives from regional cities within Brazoria, Harris and Galveston counties for an urgent discussion about the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and actions that need to be taken to protect the citizens and cities of Bay Area Houston from potential disastrous repercussions of the act. Congressman Randy Weber, State Sen. Larry Taylor, and representatives from the offices of Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Congressman Steve Stockman joined elected officials from the region that included Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman and City of Houston Council Member Dave Martin. Additional information about the meeting is available here.

BAHEP is continuing its outreach efforts through articles published in regional media outlets, collaboration with national coalitions and ongoing discussions with elected officials at the local, state and national levels.

Who to contact in Congress?

Many people are asking who in Congress can help to make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act.
In the House of Representatives, contact members of the House Financial Services Committee.
In the Senate, contact the members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.


Texas Coastal Hazard Analysis Resources & Technology, or TXCHART, is FEMA’s comprehensive approach to integrating flood hazard identification and analysis with risk communication for 17 Texas coastal counties.

Harris County Map
Flood Map information for Harris County from the FEMA RiskMap 6 web site. On the maps, areas in red are additions to the "Special Flood Hazard Area" (SFHA). Areas that are green are no longer in the SFHA.

The TXCHART page also has a link to a Flood Map for Galveston County on the FEMA RiskMap6 web site, but there isn't a layer on the map identifying the changes to the Special Flood Hazard Areas.

Galveston County Map
This draft FEMA RiskMap 6 for Galveston County allows you to put in an address and identify the location. Below the address field you can choose the fields you would like to see on the map. Once adding the address, click on the small i icon at the top of the map, click on the property, and a box will appear containing all of the current and future (draft) information for that particular property.

National Flood Insurance Program's New Rates

The following two PDFs show the impact of the National Flood Insurance Program's new rates to current policy holders. You’ll see that there is a HUGE jump in rates between properties at Base Flood Elevation (BFE) related to those homes just one foot below BFE. Remember, the BFE for many of our local communities is going up by three feet, which will throw most homes into a below BFE situation.

NFIP October 1, 2013 Rate Table: Zone AE, Single Family Residential Dwelling, Non-elevated with no basement or crawl space (PDF)

Projected Rates per FEMA Single Family $200,000 Structural Coverage/ $80,000 Contents Coverage (standard $1000 deductible) (PDF)

Related Articles

The following articles, letters and videos are from around the country with information on the impact of the new Flood Insurance rates.

February 24, 2014

February 18, 2014

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
February 12, 2014

February 7, 2014

The Boston Globe
January 31, 2014

Greater New Orleans, Inc.
January 30, 2014

CBS News
January 30, 2014

Property Casualty 360o
January 30, 2014

Letter by Michael Hecht
President and CEO
Greater New Orleans, Inc.
January 28, 2014

AP, January 28, 2014

The Times-Picayune, January 27, 2014

National Association of Counties, January 14, 2014

The Times-Picayune, December 16, 2013

Insurance Journal, November 21, 2013
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Financial Services - Democrats
November 19, 2013

Tampa Bay Times, October 28, 2013

Property Casualty 360o, October 28, 2013

Miami Herald Naked Politics Blog,
October 28, 2013

Harry and Cheryl Gregory, Simonton, TX
Mayor Daniel McJunkin from Simonton, TX, sent BAHEP a YouTube video, "Simonton Residents Respond to FEMA Rate Hikes.” It’s a great video that helps to put faces to the issue. It also negates the myth that BW-12 only impacts rich, beach front residents and their second homes. These Simonton residents explain the impact of BW-12 on their lives and their futures. Thank you, Mayor McJunkin, for sharing this video.

Insurance Journal, October 24, 2013

The Galveston County Daily News
October 20, 2013
Houston Chronicle, October 19, 2013

ABC News, Channel 13, October 14, 2013

KFDM News, Beaumont, Texas, October 3, 2013

Houston Chronicle, October 2, 2013
Archived articles and videos from around the country can be found by clicking on this link.

BAHEP Position / White Papers on Biggert-Waters


Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI) Important ACTION ALERT

"Late Friday evening, February 21st, the House of Representatives released legislation that reinstates grandfathering and removes the home sales trigger, among other things.  This legislation meets many of CSFI's most important goals, and we recommend support of it. A summary can be read here.  We encourage you to contact your congressional delegation as soon as possible to urge their support of this legislation.  It will be brought up as H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, but the new language shown in this link will replace the bill's original language.  We expect it to come up for a vote this week, possibly as soon as Wednesday, February 26th, and it will require a 2/3 majority for passage.  Amendments will not be allowed."  Caitlin S. Berni, director of External Affairs, Greater New Orleans, Inc.

From Michael Hecht
President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

"The legislation proposed by the House of Representatives achieves many of our most important goals,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. on behalf of the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance.  "The bill should both protect property owners who have played by the rules and settle real estate markets, while preserving the intent to offer flood insurance at true risk rates.  Our coalition will work towards bi-partisan passage of this legislation: ensuring flood insurance remains affordable, while protecting the solvency of the NFIP.”

About CSFI

The Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance was formed in July 2013 by elected and business leaders in response to drastic flood insurance premium hikes as a result of a confluence of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, inaccurate and incomplete FEMA flood maps, and questionable actuarial calculations.

CSFI was created in support of a sustainable, fiscally responsible National Flood Insurance Program that protects the businesses and homeowners who built according to code and have followed all applicable laws. However, changes made to the NFIP in the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 threaten to harm the very citizens the program was designed to protect.

CSFI is working to propose solutions to Congress to keep flood insurance affordable, ensure rates reflect accurate risk, suggest reforms to NFIP’s management, and request FEMA to draw accurate maps that account for all flood mitigation features.

CSFI is staffed by Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) the regional economic development organization for Southeast Louisiana. BAHEP has joined forces with the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance to protect the businesses and homeowners who built according to code and have followed all of the applicable laws.

CSFI is implementing an action plan that includes:

  • Working with Congress on legislative solutions that address premium affordability and efficient management of NFIP
  • Requesting FEMA to address premium affordability administratively and to draw holistic maps
  • Educating other regions across the country that will be affected

CSFI Final Report
- Compiled by CSFI, this paper identifies the questions posed to FEMA about the financial structure and management of the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA's responses, resulting analyses, and remaining issues.

Business and Trade Association Coalition Letter on NFIP, October 1, 2013

National Flood Insurance Program - Challenges and Solutions, August 9, 2013, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (PDF)



The following local city and county governments and organizations have passed resolutions to request amendments to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to reduce the financial impact of the changes to the NFIP for homeowners and businesses. Click on the logo to read each resolution.

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
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Member Cities and Organizations

Clear Lake Shores Houston Nassau Bay Webster
Dickinson Kemah Pasadena Galveston County
El Lago La Porte Seabrook Harris County
Friendswood League City Taylor Lake Village Port Houston
Houston Airport System Morgan's Point

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