CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., met with homeowners, insurance representatives and bankers Friday to talk about possible fixes to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act passed by Congress in 2012.
The legislation was originally intended to clamp down on property owners who build in floodplains or other risky areas by ending federal subsidies on flood insurance.
"We're $24 billion in the hole on this program at the moment," Capito said.
However, lawmakers soon discovered the legislation could mean astronomical increases in flood insurance rates for some homeowners.
"What it's done, in some cases, is tremendously harm homeowners with these horrendously large insurance premiums that are unaffordable," she said.
Capito met with about 20 homeowners, real-estate agenst, bankers and insurance representatives Friday in Charleston to discuss the issue and possible solutions. She said one homeowner would see his flood insurance go from about $1,700 a year to about $12,000 under the legislation, while another would see an insurance premium increase from about $900 to about $4,500.
"I also wanted to hear from the insurance people on what they're seeing and the bankers who are writing these mortgages, who just say it's a nightmare," Capito said.
Last month, the U.S. Senate passed a bill delaying implementation of the Biggert-Waters Act for four years, until the Federal Emergency Management Agency could conduct an affordability study on the costs of the legislation to homeowners.
Members of the House of Representatives have recently introduced a similar bill, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.
"That's what we're pushing on the House side," she said.
Campaigners for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat who will face Capito in a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in November, pointed out in a Jan. 30 news release that Capito was one of the original co-sponsors of the Biggert-Waters Act and argued that she is dragging her feet in correcting problems with the law.
Capito said Friday if the act proves unaffordable to homeowners, lawmakers will have to come up with another solution to the flood insurance problem.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.