House leadership to discuss flood insurance concerns

Leadership in the state House of Delegates plans to address members of Congress over concerns of rising flood insurance premiums resulting from changes in federal law.

“West Virginia residents and small business owners who work hard are being hit with shockingly high flood insurance costs,” House Speaker Tim Miley said. “I don’t believe that the people in Washington, D.C. realize the effect the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program are having on people who are living in low flood-risk areas here in West Virginia..”

In 2012, Congress passed a flood insurance reform act intended to bolster the National Flood Insurance Program, which state officials say is deeply in debt following disasters such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

Miley said House leadership members intend to introduce at the outset of the 2014 session a resolution to shed light on how West Virginians are being penalized and to ask Congress to revisit the 2012 insurance act.

Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock said many people in his Northern Panhandle district are receiving notice of premium hikes.

“It is our understanding that rates for homes that are inland – such as homes in my district in the Ohio Valley – are skyrocketing to compensate for the losses in coastline areas that have been hit so hard in recent years,” Swartzmiller said. “While we believe in providing federal disaster aid, the effect in this instance is that homeowners and business-owners who are not facing a significant flood risk are being forced to pay for the loss of beach-front dwellings vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes. That simply isn’t fair.”