Hoeven: Bill Preventing Flood Insurance Rate Hikes Moves to Senate Floor, Hoeven Continues Push for Passage

Hoeven-Heitkamp Basement Exception Provision Included in Legislation Being Considered on Senate Floor

WASHINGTON- Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate voted this afternoon to bring the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act to the floor for debate, moving it one step closer to becoming law. Hoeven has pushed for passage of the legislation, which will prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from unfairly raising flood insurance rates and help ensure affordable premiums for millions of Americans. The legislation includes the Hoeven-Heitkamp Flood Safe Basements provision, which enables homeowners to receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates.

“This legislation is about fairness and affordability,” said Hoeven. “It prevents FEMA from unfairly increasing flood insurance rates on North Dakotans and Americans. The legislation includes our Flood Safe Basements Act to ensure that communities are able to continue using floodproofed basement credits. We need affordable and fair flood insurance premiums. We need to get this done.”

On October 1, over four million home and business owners in the U.S., including many in North Dakota, saw their flood insurance rates significantly increase because of reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would fix this issue and prevent flood insurance rate increases until FEMA completes an affordability study to ensure that premiums are affordable for American families and businesses. After the study, the bill mandates that FEMA propose rules to address affordability and give Congress adequate time to review the proposals.

The bill includes a provision offered by Senator Hoeven and cosponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp to continue the basement exception, allowing communities to continue using floodproofed basement credits. Hoeven and Heitkamp have been working directly with FEMA to ensure that the agency maintains the current Base Flood Elevation insurance rating method that determines insurance rates by evaluating the lowest proofed opening in a home rather than the lowest floor, or basement approach. Fourteen North Dakota communities are currently approved for the residential basement floodproofed rating credit, as well as 40 additional communities across the country.

In June, the congressional delegation and governor wrote FEMA to urge the agency to continue its current policy of rating the lowest proofed opening in a home, stressing that floodproofed basements have proven effective at reducing or eliminating flood damage. Since the majority of homes in North Dakota have basements for protection from extreme weather, they stressed the negative impact a rule change would have on residents who have come to rely on the existing lowest floodproofed opening method.