Governor Josh Shapiro Signs House Bill 735 to Aid Affordability of Flood Insurance in Pennsylvania

HB735Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

YARDLEY, PA — In the wake of devastating floods that swept through parts of Pennsylvania in July, Governor Josh Shapiro yesterday ceremonially signed House Bill (HB) 735, establishing a task force to make flood insurance more affordable for state residents. The bill was officially signed into law as Act 22 on November 1, 2023, after receiving bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

The legislation establishes the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force, chaired by Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner Michael Humphreys. The task force aims to develop policies to increase access and affordability to flood insurance. They will examine and recommend potential programs that provide premium discounts and incentivize local governments to support flood mitigation efforts.

This move comes after destructive flooding impacted communities in Bucks, Northampton, and Berks Counties earlier this year. Governor Shapiro’s administration, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, promptly provided support and resources to the affected communities. All state roads in Northampton, Berks, and Bucks counties were reopened by PennDOT less than two weeks after the flooding.

“After a devastating storm this summer dropped a month’s worth of rain in a span of just two hours and flash flooding swept cars off of roads, and flooded homes, schools, and businesses in Bucks County, my Administration was on the ground immediately,” Governor Shapiro said. He added that the task force would identify programs that ensure flood insurance is accessible and affordable for Pennsylvanians and recommend the best courses of action to increase the number of residents protected by flood insurance.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently revised its flood maps, requiring more Pennsylvania properties to obtain flood insurance, leading to rising premiums. HB 735 seeks to alleviate this burden by establishing a task force to study flood insurance issues, including affordability.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is urging residents to be aware that standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies do not typically include coverage for flood-related damages. Property and casualty insurance agents across the state offer separate flood insurance policies that can cover almost any building and its contents.

Flood damage can result from a variety of causes, including flash floods, tropical storms, heavy rains, and other weather-related events. Despite the potential for significant property loss, many residents are not adequately insured against such risks, often because they mistakenly believe their standard homeowner’s or renter’s policies provide such coverage.

Flood insurance is available through both the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private insurers, including surplus lines insurers. These policies provide coverage up to certain limits for both the structure of the home and its contents. For example, under the NFIP, a home can be insured against flood damage for up to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for the contents.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is encouraging residents to review their current insurance policies, understand the limitations of their coverage, and consider purchasing separate flood insurance if necessary. It’s also important to note that there is generally a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before a new flood insurance policy goes into effect.

As part of its consumer education efforts, the department provides a range of resources on its website, including detailed information about what is covered by flood insurance, how to obtain coverage, and steps to follow when filing a flood insurance claim.

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