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Letter: Delay flood insurance rate increases

Flood damaged streets are viewed in the Rockaway

Flood damaged streets are viewed in the Rockaway section of Queens where the historic boardwalk was washed away due to superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 31, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

A Newsday editorial stated that the National Flood Insurance Program should be left as it is, and that rates should be allowed to rise for 25 percent a year until they eventually match private market insurance rates ["Flood insurance needs reforms," Nov. 12]. The editorial argued that people who live on the water should not be subsidized.

Contrary to what Newsday suggests, Congress itself now recognizes that the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act is fundamentally flawed. It phases in full actuarial rates for properties purchased after July 2012, and "grandfathers" other properties by allowing them to keep the lower rate from older flood maps.

The law also directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to report on the affordability of these rate changes, a report that is now long overdue. Even Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the current law, now supports a delay in rate hikes to allow for the study's completion.

The legally required transition to true risk rates, which are quite debatable, has plagued consumers with increases beyond what anyone imagined possible.

The prudent approach is to enact the four-year delay in rate increases to the National Flood Insurance Program until FEMA completes its study, to create a system for targeted rate relief and to establish an office of advocate for flood insurance rate and mapping concerns. Congress should not let unresearched and unsubstantiated rate increases go into effect.

Joseph E. Mottola, West Babylon

Editor's note: The writer is the chief executive of the Long Island Board of Realtors® Inc.