Hoeven, Bipartisan Group of Senators Push Bill on Senate Floor to Prevent Increase in Flood Insurance Rates

Hoeven-Heitkamp Basement Exception Legislation Included

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven and a bipartisan group of senators today took to the Senate floor to gather support for legislation that would prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from raising flood insurance rates before it studies the impact of raising rates on policy holders. The measure will help ensure affordable premiums for millions of Americans. Included in the bipartisan legislation is the Hoeven-Heitkamp Flood Safe Basements Act, which ensures homeowners receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates.

Senator Hoeven has 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 flood proofed rating credit, as well as 40 additional communities across the country.

“This is about affordability of homeownership,” Hoeven said. “That’s what the American Dream is all about. But when a homeowner has put the cost into making sure that they have a flood proof basement, if we don’t take that into account in the insurance rates, we are penalizing them and charging them twice. That makes no sense at all. That’s why we’ve got to have the basement exception continued in this legislation.”

In June, the 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 flood proofed 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 flood proofed opening method.