Hoeven, Heitkamp, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Legislation to Prevent Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

Hoeven-Heitkamp Basement Exception Legislation Included

WASHINGTON- Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation to help prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from exorbitantly raising flood insurance rates and to 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.

“North Dakotans need fair and affordable flood insurance rates,” said Hoeven. “This bipartisan legislation ensures that FEMA completes an affordability study to ensure flood insurance premiums are affordable. It also includes an important provision that ensures communities in North Dakota and across the country are able to continue using floodproofed basement credits to determine their premiums. We need to make certain that we have affordable flood insurance that works for our communities.”

“Flooding is too often a reality for so many North Dakotans and earlier this month, flood insurance rates went up for millions of families, putting them at risk if they aren’t able to pay the higher cost,” said Senator Heitkamp. “Today’s bipartisan bill would reverse this course and make sure that homeowners are able to get the affordable flood insurance they deserve to protect them and their families. It also includes a crucial provision that impacts many North Dakotans who have proactively flood proofed their basements. The bill makes sure these homeowners won’t see their flood insurance rates spike to unaffordable levels when they have already gone above and beyond to mitigate their flood risk.”

The bipartisan, bicameral bill prevents flood insurance rates increases until FEMA completes an affordability study to ensure that flood insurance premiums are affordable for American families and businesses.

The legislation also includes a provision offered by Senators Hoeven and 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 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 flood-proofed opening method.