Biggert-Waters and NFIP: Flood insurance should be strengthened.: Enter the 2012 Biggert-Waters law. Its stipulations were firm: Properties built before the NFIP were no longer grandfathered into the program; homes that flood repeatedly (“Repetitive Loss Properties”) were denied coverage; and insurance premiums would be recalculated to accurately reflect real actuarial risk. The law further mandated the formation of a Technical Mapping Advisory Council, a body of experts empowered to advise FEMA on best practices in floodplain mapping. Biggert-Waters marked a rare moment in American disaster politics: enlightenment. Local interests were sacrificed for something bigger—preparing the nation for the storms on the horizon. And therein was the problem.
Even before Biggert-Waters passed, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu began a crusade to “repeal it, radically amend it, or delay” the law. She claimed the bill would make insurance premiums unaffordable and chastised FEMA for not conducting an effective assessment of the law’s impact on consumers. The construction-lending-real estate complex, led by the National Association of Home Builders also came out strongly against the law, citing possible negative impacts on home sales and housing starts. Even California Rep. Maxine Waters, the co-sponsor and namesake of the law, turned on it, lamenting its “unintended consequences.”