Summary: H.R.4973 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (06/27/2006)

Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2006 - (Sec. 3) Instructs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the status of the national flood insurance program for certain pre-FIRM properties (properties not constructed or improved after specified dates).

Prescribes study contents, including extension of mandatory flood insurance coverage purchase requirements to: (1) properties located in any area that would be designated as having special flood hazards but for the existence of a structural flood protection system; and (2) property located in any area having special flood hazards which secures the repayment of specified loans.

(Sec. 4) Amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, with respect to the chargeable premium rate for actuarial rate properties in an area (or area subdivision), to include: (1) nonresidential properties; (2) non-primary residences; and (3) certain pre-FIRM properties constructed or substantially improved before December 31, 1974, (or before the effective date of the initial rate map for the area) and purchased after the enactment of this Act. Sets forth a phase-in period for increased actuarial rates for premiums for such properties and residences covered under the national flood insurance program.

(Sec. 5) Reduces from 30 days to 15 days the waiting period before the effective date of flood insurance policies.

Excepts from the waiting period requirement the initial purchase of flood insurance coverage in connection with the purchase or other transfer of the property for which the coverage is provided (regardless of whether a loan is involved in the purchase or transfer transaction).

(Sec. 6) Amends the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 to increase civil monetary penalties: (1) from $350 to $2,000 for each regulated lender violation; and (2) from $100,000 to $1 million the total amount of penalties that may be assessed against any single regulated lending institution or enterprise during any calendar year.

(Sec. 7) Amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to increase maximum flood insurance coverage for residential property: (1) from $250,000 to $335,000 for any single-family dwelling; (2) from $100,000 to $135,000 for contents per dwelling unit; and (3) from $500,000 to $670,000 the structure and related contents of a nonresidential property, including churches.

(Sec. 8) Prescribes coverage for necessary increases in living expenses, basement improvements, business interruption, and replacement cost of contents.

(Sec. 9) Increases from 10% to 15% the annual limitation on premium increases.

(Sec. 10) Increases from $18.5 billion to $25 billion the borrowing authority of the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the flood insurance program.

(Sec. 11) Requires FEMA, upon request of the state insurance regulator, to participate in state flood disaster claims nonbinding mediation programs. Prescribes implementation guidelines.

Declares that participation of representatives of the Director in state-sponsored mediation shall not: (1) affect or expand the liability of any party in contract or in tort, nor shall it affect the rights or obligations of the parties as provided in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy under the national flood insurance program, FEMA regulations, this Act, or federal common law; or (2) alter, change, or modify the original exclusive jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

Declares further that nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the Director or his or her representatives to pay additional mediation fees relating to flood claims associated with a state-sponsored mediation program in which they participate.

Requires the Standard Flood Insurance Policy as well as the appeals process established under the Bunning-Bereueter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, and related regulations, to apply exclusively, instead of this section, in the case of a natural catastrophe that results in flood damage claims under the national flood insurance program but does not result in any loss covered by a personal lines residential property insurance policy.

(Sec. 12) Requires the Director of FEMA to report semiannually to Congress on the financial status of the national flood insurance program.

(Sec. 13) Extends funding through FY2011 for the pilot program for mitigation of severe repetitive loss properties.

(Sec. 14) Amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 to require good faith estimates to state that flood insurance coverage for residential real estate is generally available (including mandatory escrowing of flood insurance payments for many loans), whether or not the real estate is located in an area having special flood hazards.

(Sec. 15) Instructs the FEMA Director to: (1) establish a decisions appeals process for flood insurance policyholders; (2) implement specified minimum training and education standards for insurance agents selling flood insurance; and (3) report to Congress regarding implementation of each provision of the Bunning-Bereuter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, and identify each regulation, order, notice, and other material issued by the Director in implementing that Act.

(Sec. 16) Amends the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to require the FEMA Director to establish and report to Congress on a program to: (1) review, update, and maintain flood insurance program maps; and (2) review and revise floodplain and flood risk zones. Authorizes appropriations for FY2007-FY2012 for flood insurance program maps.

Requires the FEMA Director to conduct a program to educate a community after each update to a flood insurance program rate map about the effects of such update.

Reestablishes the Technical Mapping Advisory Council.

Authorizes the Director to establish interim flood elevation requirements after any flood-related disaster, which may remain in effect until the Director establishes new flood elevations for the area.

Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on potential methods, practices, and incentives that would increase the extent to which low-income families that own residential properties within having special flood hazards areas may purchase coverage under the national flood insurance program.

(Sec. 17) Revises requirements governing notification and establishment of flood elevation determinations. Requires the FEMA Director to notify in writing, by first class mail, each owner of real property affected by proposed flood elevations of the process for appealing a flood elevation determination.

(Sec. 18) Requires the FEMA Director to: (1) maintain a national levee inventory; and (2) clarify the applicability of replacement cost coverage.

(Sec. 20) Authorizes additional FEMA staff.

(Sec. 21) Directs the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security to investigate and report to Congress on insurers making flood insurance coverage available under the Write-Your-Own program.

(Sec. 22) Includes among activities eligible for the mitigation assistance program demolition and rebuilding of structures located in certain areas to at least Base Flood Elevation or any greater elevation required by any local ordinance.

(Sec. 23) Instructs the FEMA Director, in selecting the cases and claims for operational reviews and claims re-inspections, to use a statistically valid probability sample whose results can be generalized to the entire population of reviews and claims from which the sample is drawn and whose sampling error can be quantified.

(Sec. 24) Prohibits the FEMA Director, in establishing any requirements regarding notification, proof, or approval of claims for damage to or loss of property, from requiring an insured to notify the Director of such damage or loss, submit a claim for it, or certify to or submit proof of such damage or loss, before the expiration of the 180-day period that begins on the date that such damage or loss occurred.

Prohibits the Director, also, from denying a claim solely for failure to meet a deadline if the insured demonstrates any good cause for such failure.