Boston (WWLP) - House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley have filed legislation to cap mandatory flood insurance costs. Some Massachusetts homeowners face flood insurance premium increases of $10,000 dollars or more as the federal government expands flood zones and phases out subsidies.
“We’re truly going to see people that are losing their homes, not from floods but from flood insurance,” said DeLeo.
An increasing number of storms have caused FEMA to remap flood zones across the country, requiring more homeowners to pay into flood insurance. In Western Massachusetts that could impact people living along the Connecticut River or other bodies of water. Critics say the maps are too broad and the insurance costs are unaffordable.
Westfield state Representative Don Humason says a woman in his district who lives on a hill beside the Westfield River is suddenly being required to purchase flood insurance.
“In order for the water to flood from the Westfield River onto her side, it would have to raise 100 feet, but now she’s getting bills from her insurance company saying that she now has to have flood insurance,” said Rep. Humason.
The proposed legislation prevents banks from requiring homeowners to buy flood insurance that exceeds their mortgage balance, includes coverage over contents of the home, or includes a deductible of less than $5,000. This flood insurance only covers the mortgage and not damage to the home. State lawmakers say these measures are meant to keep premiums down.
“Essentially people are being frozen out, they can’t sell their homes and people aren’t buying because there’s so much uncertainty of what the rates are going to be for their flood insurance,” said Rep. James Cantwell (D-Marshfield).
Cantwell says that because of cuts to FEMA, the federal agency had to hire a third party with ties to insurance agencies to redraw the flood zone maps. A Massachusetts congressional delegation has been asking FEMA to consider redrawing the maps.