Connect with Chair and Executive Director Joe Rossi's monthly news column
Truth in the NFIP
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been in the national news recently in a series of critical reports. One story criticized how the NFIP is using insureds’ premiums to deny claims and overpay insurance companies. Another criticized a proposed FEMA rule change allowing homeowners to rebuild after receiving a demolition grant for a flood-prone home. The news has criticized FEMA and the NFIP without sufficient research and explanation. There are issues with the NFIP’s administration and FEMA’s grant proposals, but going just below the surface clarifies the story beyond the initial sensational headlines. A few weeks ago, a national news station ran a scathing piece about how two thirds of NFIP premium dollars go to private insurance companies and their lawyers. This makes the NFIP sound extremely dysfunctional. The NFIP is administered by private insurance companies called Write Your Own companies (WYO). The WYO’s manage about 80% of flood policies within the NFIP, while the NFIP manages the remaining 20%. Premiums are collected by the companies and deposited to the Federal Government where all NFIP administrative costs are then paid. Over time, the WYO’s found that it was too costly to administer the NFIP program themselves. So service […]
Missing Piece to Fixing Our Problem
For the last three months, our Massachusetts east coast has experienced some of the worst Nor’easters ever seen. From historical flooding to historical damage, 2018 will be remembered as the year our conversation shifted from how we clean up and recover to how many more times can we do this? Governor Baker toured damaged areas after each storm, and promised his support to protect our coast and flood prone areas. On March 15th, the Governor, surrounded by legislative leaders on coastal issues, announced his proposal for a $1.4 billion environmental bond to help protect our coast. Critical projects such as new seawalls and beach nourishment, were included in the bill, and we applaud the efforts and measures our legislators are taking. However, we feel there is also the need to elevate or eliminate buildings that are becoming destroyed or repeatedly flooded by our storms. The pictures in the news tell a story to the rest of the nation: our Nor’easters this year were historical. Beach erosion, damaged seawalls and images of houses lost. Residents of Massachusetts, affected or not, are having conversations that something has to be done. We can no longer ignore the complex issues of investing in our […]
NFIP Communities Need Certainty
If there is one thing that 2017 has taught us, it’s that uncertainty is certain. From international dealings to domestic policy, no time has been as uncertain as now. There’s no exception when talking about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Uncertainty with the NFIP is not a foreign, far off issue. It’s a real, at home issue that strikes our communities and affects our nation’s housing market every day. Our communities deserve certainty that the National Flood Insurance Program will be there for them to close on loans, pay claims, and protect the over one trillion dollars of value the National Flood Insurance Program insures. Already in 2017, the National Flood Insurance Program has seen two short term extensions. With the NFIP expiration set for September 30th, Congress pushed the NFIP expiration to December 8th tying it to the Federal budget continuing resolution. Only one day before the December 8th deadline, Congress extended the NFIP for only two weeks to December 22nd, again tying the program to a continuing resolution. To those that say Congress will never let the flood program laps, we only have to look back to 2008-2011 when the program lapsed several times. What happens […]
Deadlines and changes to flood program
Amongst all the legislative activity that Congress is considering making for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the NFIP still exists and is still functioning. The program is writing new policies and paying claims to those that have experienced losses. The NFIP goes through changes twice a year, every April and October 1st as the program is designed to do by existing legislation. In the communities of Marshfield, Scituate and Duxbury, there are even more changes coming that have critical implications to insurance costs for those that were newly mapped in last year’s flood map changes. The changes to the flood program are just as critical, if not more important, than legislative activity in the coming year, as they have an immediate effect on policy holders. In 2014, FEMA developed a new process for those entering the flood zone for the first time. Last year around this time, we spend an extensive amount of time informing those possibly newly mapped into high hazard flood zones (any “A” or “V” zone) about how the new process worked, the deadline for securing coverage, and its importance. The newly mapped process gives low premium, beneficial rated flood policies to those buildings that […]
Why we need the NFIP now more than ever
Hurricane Harvey will most likely go down as the most devastating natural disaster in US history. The disaster still unfolding shows the toll on both human life and the financial burdens on both the public and private sectors. The NFIP is a federal program, one that insures homes and businesses against the peril of flood, will be front and center in the recovery efforts in Houston, as an event that is likely to surpass the flooding losses of Hurricane Katrina. The NFIP, already over $24 billion in debt, is likely to be saddled with even further debt. Calls have already begun from various sectors for the program to be sunset and removed from the federal government. However, what Harvey will show us is that we need the NFIP now more than ever. It is important to realize that the NFIP, enacted in 1968 due to the lack of private flood insurance, is more than insurance. The NFIP is a four part program consisting of insurance, floodplain management, mapping, and grants. While flood insurance is the most customer facing piece, one could argue that the floodplain management function of the program is the most important. “Floodplain management” is just that; […]
Moving Legislation on NFIP
With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) expiring at the end of September, the race is on to reauthorize the program. The legislative landscape is changing fast. By the time this column prints, it will most likely have changed again. New bills are being introduced on a weekly basis. Congress has made the NFIP reauthorization and reform a national priority. With all the legislative changes and the expiration of the program looming, why should this matter to the average NFIP flood policy holder or the general public? It matters because the changes to the NFIP, or the expiration of the NFIP, will change how homes are bought and sold, change lending behavior, and change the landscape of our coastal and riverine communities. Right now, the focus on reauthorization has been on the US House of Representatives, where recently seven bills have moved out of committee and could come to a full vote of the US House the week after the fourth of July. The bills that have made it out of committee have caused serious concerns for us and many other stakeholders. The bills remove grandfathering for structures, prevents any new buildings built in any A or V zone […]
2017 NFIP Reauthorization
On September 30th of this year, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire. Congress must reauthorize the program by passing a reauthorization bill before this date. With all the confusion and priorities that Congress has this year, there has been concern that this will not happen. However, about a month ago, congress started to hold hearings in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In addition, I recently returned from a coalition meeting in New Orleans and a flood conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Each event focused on the reauthorization of the NFIP, and what a new NFIP might look like. The legislative hearings within the House of Representatives took place in the middle of March. In the first hearing, Roy Wright, FEMA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation (head of the NFIP) testified to Congress. In his testimony, Mr. Wright outlined his priorities for reauthorization- an on time, multi year reauthorization, increased coverage amounts, private participation, and a product consumers want. Amongst Congress’s concerns and questions for Mr. Wright was the decrease of policies within the NFIP, down by 600 thousand in the last four years. Congress was concerned about the consumer’s awareness of true flood risk. […]
2017 A Busy Year For Flood
Over the last several years, starting with the Biggert-Waters act of 2012, flood insurance has taken front and center in many people’s lives. Whether it be skyrocketing premiums or new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), there are plenty of areas for concern within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, no year since 2012 has been more important for the program than 2017. The program expires on September 30th, 2017, and much like 2012, requires reauthorization by Congress to remain in effect. We are hopeful the renewed program will include some much anticipated reform. Reauthorization of the NFIP is required every so often (right now, every 5 years) by Congress. The effort to not only reauthorize the NFIP, but also bring about major reform, has been under way for some time. The overall focus for reauthorization is a program that is affordable, allows competition from private insurers, and provides proper funding for raising and retrofitting structures to reduce risk and premium. Reauthorization is not the only change for flood insurance in 2017. The roll of private flood insurance is expected to be better defined for lender acceptance. There are other FEMA policy changes coming as well, including the “clear […]
After Map Approval: Letters From Lenders
At Marshfield Special Town Meeting on October 24, 2016, the Town of Marshfield voted to accept the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). On November 4th, the proposed FIRMs became effective. The new effective maps have several implications for those newly mapped and already mapped into the flood zone. However, the most immediate impacts are for those being moved in for the first time, known as newly mapped properties. Many residents who are newly mapped into the flood zone are now receiving letters from their lenders notifying them their structure has been recently added to the flood zone for the first time. While not all lenders are the same, most lenders are asking for flood insurance coverage for the LEAST of the following: Maximum insurance coverage available within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which is $250,000, the value of the loan, or the replacement cost of your building. Those that receive these letters have 45 days to purchase NFIP flood insurance, or your lender will force place insurance on you. It is highly recommended that you purchase a NFIP policy before you are forced placed. In many cases, the forced placed insurance is a private policy and can be […]
Getting Ready For Map Changes
Flood maps are changing on November 4th! With Marshfield Special Town Meeting approaching, we have outlined some items to keep in mind as we move toward the flood map effective date. Timeline: Below is a timeline of the important dates and what each one means in coming weeks: OCTOBER 24th : The date of Marshfield Special Town Meeting, where the town citizens will be asked to adopt the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) by a vote of 2/3. A yes vote will adopt the new FIRMs. A no vote would reject the new FIRMs. NOVEMBER 4th : The FIRM effective date. The date most flood insurance related decisions must be made by. As a note, even if the flood maps are not voted in, the maps will become effective for FEMA and non-FEMA related decision making. Insurance: For those newly mapped into a special flood hazard area (the V or A zone) for the first time under the new FIRMs, a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) should be purchased before the November 4th map effective date. Purchasing the PRP before the map effective date will give those insured’s 2 years of the low rates versus 1 year if individuals […]
Protecting yourself with Insurance
On May 4th, 2016, the Town’s of Marshfield, Scituate and Duxbury received the letter of final determination (LFD) for our flood maps. This letter stated that the Towns have six months to adopt the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The LFD started a process that requires homeowners to understand both changing maps and insurance options. Earlier this year, the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition (MCCC) developed a four-point plan to inform residents about insurance options, understand map changes, listen to the communities thoughts on the flood maps and have citizens understand what the ramifications of not adopting flood maps are. At the very onset of this process, we agreed as a committee to not take an official stance on the flood maps. We felt our job was to do our best to present all the information and thoughts on the issue in an informative way. The flood maps require a vote at the October Special Town Meeting, and in Marshfield the article will require a 2/3 vote to pass. While members of our committee have varying thoughts on the flood maps, we all agree that we need to make sure we present all sides and information of the upcoming vote. […]
Maps are next on the agenda
The Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition (MCCC) would first like to once again thank those who attended and supported our Flood Insurance Summit this past April. Based on attendance, discussion with attendees and the attendee evaluations, the Flood Insurance Summit was an overwhelming success, with over 400 attendees spanning two days and CE credits offered for insurance agents. Lisa Jones, our featured presenter, provided us with anecdotal stories to illustrate what changes are needed to improve the program, primarily better education and education programs to support the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These anecdotal stories also provided ideas and stimulated attendees to think outside the box, which created a dialogue during the Summit sessions. In every anecdotal story that was highlighted the insured’s premium was reduced by more than $3,000. This is a significant annual savings. The NFIP, in its current state, is a very complicated program and all insurance professionals (insurance and real estate agents, brokers, underwriters, etc.) need a better understanding of the rules in order to know how to assist their clients. Collectively, we all need to work together to improve the program as we develop our message for the NFIP reform. The attendance of homeowners, professionals and […]
With ongoing changes to flood maps and flood insurance, there has been a lot of information, frustration, and confusion, as can be expected. With questions like what zone is my house in, what are the rates going to be, or how long do I have to protect myself with insurance, the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition (MCCC) is doing our best to bring the best information to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) stakeholders and also bring your concerns to those that can make changes at the national level. The past few months, we have talked to many homeowners. They are frustrated that even with correct information they feel helpless in their ability to change the program at the federal level. With rates continuing to rise, mapping changes, and uncertainty in the flood program, there clearly is reason to feel frustrated and confused. This past year, the MCCC made a concerted effort to bring our local issues to a national level. By attending several national conferences in Arizona, New Orleans, and Washington D.C, the MCCC started to discuss and learn the thoughts and ideas others have on reforming the NFIP, which will be required to be reauthorized in 2017. For those homeowners that […]
Preparing for the Flood Maps
Soon, Marshfield and Scituate will be presented with new Flood Insurance Rate Maps, otherwise known as FIRMs. The story of the FIRMs has been the center of attention for the last 2 years. There will no doubt be a lot of public attention and confusion about the FIRMs, with common questions such as what zone is my house in, what can I do to protect my home, and what can we do about the maps if we still feel they are not correct? The Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition will hold several meetings and information sessions about the FIRMs, but we are going to take a quick look here on what to expect, what we can and can not do, and what it all means for you as a home owner. The MCCC has taken the stance that when the new FIRMs are introduced, we will not be advocating for an appeal or revision of the maps. Our focus, instead, will be to educate homeowners on how to protect themselves through insurance and mitigation. There are several key points on why we have taken this stance. First, when the maps are introduced, we will have a limited time to inform […]
Continuing and exciting 2015
The Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalitions is fresh off our latest national effort, returning from the 2015 Property Casualty Insurers Official National Flood Insurance Conference. This conference has, once again, shown Marshfield as leaders in national flood issues. On the first day of the two-day conference, the conference started with a round table discussion with bankers, insurers, and FEMA leaders on discussing the status of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The discussion focused around simplifying the NFIP and funding more mitigation projects going forward. Later, there was an opportunity for us to attend a class about changes coming to the NFIP hosted by FEMA underwriters, where we learned about changes coming in November. Those changes are focused mainly around the classification of building occupancy, the incorporation of new rate tables, and cancelation refund rules. The keynote speaker at the end of the first day was Representative Maxine Water, the co-sponsor of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012. Rep. Waters spoke of the “unintended consequences” of the BW-12 bill, and blamed FEMA for improperly implementing it. On the second day, the conference started by a speech from the leader of the NFIP, Brad Kieserman. His speech, titled our iceberg is melting, […]
Representing Marshfield Nationally
Our efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) continue. Later in March, the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition will begin conference calls with stakeholder groups within Massachusetts in order to start the reform of the NFIP, which will be reauthorized by Congress in 2017. However, because the NFIP is a Federal program, the reform requires a national effort, and leading the charge nationally is the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI) who is based out of New Orleans. CSFI was instrumental in helping implement the last round of reform in 2014 with the HFIAA flood reform act. The Massachusetts Coastal Coalition, lead by the Scituate and Marshfield Coastal Coalitions, are leading the charge here in New England under the direction of CSFI. Due to the need to network and understand the issues at a national level, the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition will be representing Marshfield and Massachusetts at several national flood meetings this week. On Friday, the MCCC will be meeting with the director of CSFI, Caitlin Berni. The meeting will be centered around ideas and our focus as we head to 2017, and also some unique issues facing each region of the country. Following the meeting with CSFI, on […]
Marshfield as a coastal community
After the recent blizzard Juno, the focus once again turns to our coast, however this time, at a national level. Whether it is national television or national newspapers talking about Marshfield’s seawall failures, or the destruction of homes the storm left behind, there is now attention, both good and bad, being brought to Marshfield. What’s good about having the focus on our coast? Hopefully there will be greater attention brought at the national level for the entire east coast for funding to coastal infrastructure. It brings focus to the fact that close to 60 million people that live within miles of the east coast depend on maintaining our vast miles of beaches. The negative, however, is that those without familiarities of the coast criticize those who live right on the water and who get constantly flooded without having an understanding of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and how it is administered or our community of Marshfield. There have recently been a series of articles nationally and regionally bringing a negative view to those who live on the coast. They release miss information because they do not fully understand our tight nit community of Marshfield or our resilient coastal residents. […]
Going forward in 2015
2014 was a very busy year for the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition and flood insurance issues. With regular updates, a continuation of our educational program, a brand new state of the art website, and forming into a Federally tax recognized community organization which allows us to fundraise, we are now ready to move full speed ahead into 2015. And it will be a VERY busy 2015, with some landmark flood insurance developments on their way. It is currently expected that in April, the scientific review panel will return to the Town of Marshfield with their findings on the current flood map appeal. Right now, no one has any idea what those findings will be; however, many feel optimistic there will be a positive outcome for the citizens. This process will ultimately either result in FEMA telling the Town to use the current proposed maps, or FEMA will issue a new set of flood maps with a change in the base flood elevation. As soon as this decision is released, the MCCC will be busy informing homeowners affected on how to protect themselves, which is to purchase the Preferred Risk Policy. We are currently developing an outreach strategy, which will incorporate […]
Flood is still an issue
Back in March, with the work of local, state and federal lawmakers and citizen groups across the country, a new law was passed to amend the Biggert-Waters Act called the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, better known as HFIAA. This amendment was a great relief to homeowners and communities, as it restored things like grandfathering, lower rate tables, and more. However, while HFIAA did great things for the flood issue as a whole, there is a false sense that everything is “taken care of”. The truth of the matter is there’s still a lot homeowners need to think about and need to know. Here is one example. Marshfield’s flood maps are delayed for a year; however there will still be new flood maps at some point, and new structures will be added to the flood zone. Grandfathering has been restored under the HFIAA. Grandfathering allows people to keep the premium rates in the flood zone they are currently in even if the new flood maps move them into a new zone. However, if you are going into a flood zone for the first time, the only way you will be grandfathered going forward is if you have flood insurance before […]
On our way to winning the war
This past week, several battles were won on our way to a truly sustainable National Flood Insurance Program. On January 30th, the U.S. Senate passed the Home Owner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, Senate Bill 1846. The Act, which would pauses the Biggert-Waters Act for four years for many, passed the Senate 67 to 32. This is a big victory for us, but is only the first legislative step, as it must pass the U.S. House or Representatives, then must receive a signature from the President. Before this vote happened, however, there was some opposition from Federal leadership. On January 27th, after the debate began on the S. 1846 in the Senate, the White House came out in opposition to the idea of amending Biggert-Waters. While the statement does not mean the bill would be vetoed once on the Presidents desk, it does add some concern that we must continue to advocate the need for affordable flood insurance. Before debate began on S. 1846 in the U.S. Senate, House Speaker Boehner said he would not bring any version of S. 1846 to the House membership for a vote. In our weekly phone call with the National coalition CSFI, U.S. Senator Vitter […]
When the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition started working on the flood insurance issue earlier this year, we understood that we would be up against something we could not do alone. So to understand the significance of starting a regional coastal group, we need to understand where we are on the issue right now. Since the inception of the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition in early 2012, we have been meeting regularly with the Scituate Coastal Coalition. Earlier this year, they introduced us to the group Greater New Orleans Inc (GNO Inc), who was forming a national coalition to fight against higher insurance premiums. GNO Inc. has a full time, paid legislative staff and is the chamber of commerce for the New Orleans area. The national coalition they formed, called the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance, is made up of coastal coalitions, government bodies, and other groups totaling roughly 200 organizations all over the country. We are unified by GNO Inc. and weekly conference calls about issues and next steps. With our collective efforts, and with the support of the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced H.R. 3370, a bill designed to put a four-year pause for MOST […]
Map appeal and what’s next
October 16th marked the end of the map appeal period for Marshfield and Scituate. The appeal period, spanning 90 days and beginning back in July, gives communities the opportunity to dispute the FEMA flood maps by issuing an appeal. An appeal must prove the flood maps are wrong based on scientific evidence. The easiest way to prove an error, according to FEMA is to prove elevation or Base Flood Elevation (BFE) level errors. The BFE is what FEMA says the height of the water will be in a 1 in 100 year storm. When we at the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition starting looking at the flood maps back in July, we knew there had to be errors, based on the simple fact that the proposed BFEs are so much higher then the current ones. First, we did a study on the current and proposed base flood elevations versus the known 1 in 100 year storm, which according to the Army Corps of Engineers is the blizzard of 1978. We found that the current flood maps BFE in Marshfield compared to the 1 in 100 year storm is a difference of about a 1%. However we found that the average BFE […]
Supporting Seawall Article
Supporting Seawall Article If you ask anyone who moved to Marshfield why they chose to move here, there are a variety of answers you may receive. They moved here because of the schools, Marshfield has an excellent school system. They may say it’s close to their place of employment; Marshfield is centrally located on the South Shore. But in this list of reasons, there is always one answer that is consistent: Because Marshfield is a coastal community. Out of 296 towns and 55 cities in Massachusetts, only about 56 communities have a direct connection with the ocean. And if you look at the numbers, or more simply at the great people in the community we have, we are arguably one of the most desirable communities is Massachusetts. Any way you look at it, Marshfield is a great place to live. But that word “coastal” means so much to us, both positively and negatively. Lets look at some facts: Coastal watersheds generated over $6 trillion nationally in the past several years. According to FEMA flood maps, areas all the way back to Webster Street, along Parsonage Street, and back to the marshes in Green Harbor and into Duxbury could be […]
What we are working on
As the weather reports came in the first week of February, it was clear Marshfield was going to get a lot of snow, and the coastal region was looking at damaging surf and strong winds After the blizzard, we asked coastal residents to send us damage info via email, which we then sent to the appropriate officials in Marshfield. We received comments about stairs pulling away from the wall, seawall caps (top of the wall) were damaged and had been physically removed, and there were several emails expressing concern about the beach erosion. Overall, in regards to our coastal infrastructure, Marshfield weathered the storm with minimal direct damage. However, ask the residents who were flooded, received damage to their property, or who had no power for almost a week, they may have a different opinion. This storm, notoriously named “Nemo”, highlighted everything the Marshfield Coastal Coalition, a citizens based group aimed at informing and working for Marshfield and its residents, have been and will be working on. Already we are exploring raising our Community Rating Service (CRS) level. Residents who haven’t heard of CRS will start to hear a lot more about it, and for a good reason. CRS is […]
Articles Featuring The Coalition
After months of uncertainty and concern with the state of the National Flood Insurance Program, the fears of coastal property owners have come true: the program has expired due to a failure in Congress to pass a budget.
MARSHFIELD — As seaside residents assess any damage done to their homes by last week’s storm, they should know their options before filing flood insurance claims, local experts say. The nor’easter brought tides that were nearly record-setting.
Coastal Massachusetts communities hit hard by flooding during high tide in Thursday’s massive snowstorm are starting to clean up from the damage left behind. In Scituate, hundreds of residents are still without power after a seawall failed during the storm, causing water to flood homes and business along Oceanside Drive, Lighthouse Road, Rebecca Road, Sixth Avenue, and Seventh Avenue.
MARSHFIELD – Glenda Adams said it wasn’t exactly convenient when the town rebuilt the seawall separating her Foster Avenue home from the ocean. The new sea wall, built in 2015, is about 3 feet taller and 6 inches thicker than the previous wall, which was more than 80 years old.
Hurricane Harvey will most likely go down as the most devastating natural disaster in US history. The disaster still unfolding shows the toll on both human life and the financial burdens on both the public and private sectors.
The images on our TVs of streets turned into rivers in Houston are sparking flashbacks of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. That 2005 Gulf of Mexico storm had a big impact here in Massachusetts. That’s because the financial drain on the National Flood Insurance Program prompted Congress to pass a major insurance reform bill in 2012 that caused premiums to rise significantly for many properties here.
Hundreds of Maine households have dropped their flood insurance policies in recent years, boosting the risk of unrecoverable losses the next time severe flooding hits the state. As of June 30, there were only 8,380 active flood insurance policies in Maine under the National Flood Insurance Program, down 9 percent from five years earlier, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As Congress works out the differences in several bills to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, a local flood insurance expert says lowering the number of properties that put in repeat flood claims is a top priority. Joe Rossi, chairman of the Marshfield and Massachusetts coastal coalitions, said 150,000 buildings across the country are considered problem structures.
Photos and videos of the MCC in action