Monday, April 14, 2014

Update on the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA)

Last week we had provided news about the US Congress passing the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) at the end of March.  Since then, FEMA has published an overview of the the bill found on their website and in the FEMA Resource Library.  This overview document can also be found on our Flood Hazard Management webpage.

We have also started to get some information on how HFIAA will impact people in Vermont specifically, as well as the impacts to flood insurance nationally.  Here is a short summary:

  • It will take some time to start to implement provisions of the new law:
    • In the short term, there may still be individuals that get hit with full actuarial rates due to a new policy on a preFIRM residence (home built before the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were created).  This new policy could be due to a lapsed flood insurance policy or a new policy being written due to a transfer of the property and/or a requirement by a lender for flood insurance;
    • There will also be a lag for people who will be expecting refunds due to the change in their flood insurance premium as a result of the HFIAA.
  • If you are a property owner living in Bennington County or in the Town/Village of Richmond here in Vermont:  FEMA will be releasing new preliminary or effective DFIRMs in the coming year.  Richmond's new DFIRMs are scheduled to become effective on 8/2/2014.  Bennington County's new DFIRMs are anticipated to become effective about one year from now (March 2015).  If the new preliminary DFIRMs show your house to be located in the mapped flood hazard area where you had not been shown to be located in the flood hazard area on previous FIRMs, you may be eligible for a grandfathered flood insurance rating.  Anyone who may be eligible for receiving grandfathered flood insurance rates is encouraged to get flood insurance BEFORE the new DFIRMs become effective for your community.  For more information regarding FEMA's grandfathering policy, please see an earlier post that was written for the Washington County map update process.  Please note that the estimated flood insurance premiums discussed may be different due to the effects of either Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) or HFIAA.  
UPDATE **For Properties newly mapped into the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area: your first year would be rated as a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) rate - i.e. as if you are not located in the flood hazard area.  Policy ratings in subsequent years would be based on the same phase-in method used to eliminate pre-FIRM suubsidies.

  • Flood Insurance premiums are going up for everyone.  While the HFIAA is allowing a phase-in of higher rates for primary homeowners, the law is still enabling a push for all policies to eventually reach full actuarial rates.  Property owners should seriously consider mitigating their home or structure(s) to reduce their flood risk and reduce the cost of flood insurance.  Additional information about mitigating your home or structure can be found on the VT Flood Resilience Sharepoint site found under either "Step 5: Insure" or "Step 3: Reduce".  

If you are a local official or someone else that may be helping individuals affected by the changes from the HFIAA, the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) will be offering two upcoming webinars in May and June focused on the changes to Biggert Waters 2012 from HFIAA (see dates below).  From the ASFPM announcement, the first webinar in early April filled up and these two follow up webinars are also expected fill up quickly.  
Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) of 2014 (AKA Grimm-Waters 2014) meets Biggert-Waters 2012: Impacts and Implications
Learn how the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act modifies and expands on BW-12 implications
1 core CEC for CFMs
$30 for ASFPM Individual Members*
$45 ASFPM Chapters/Agencies/Corporate Partners*
$60 Non-members
*Members must enter the event promo code at registration to receive the preferred rate.  ASFPM members should register through the ASFPM Membership Login page.  

More information about the webinars can found by clicking on the webinar flyer links below:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 - What's Changed from BW12?

After many of the new provisions of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) started going into effect, we had written about discussions and a US Senate bill that was working its way through Congress to roll back many of the BW12 provisions.  While there were many issues that seemed to need some working out, chief among them affordability provisions for the new rates and increasing funding for mitigation projects, a final bill was sent from the House of Representatives to the Senate and was voted on on 3/13/2014.  The President signed the new Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) into law on 3/21/ 2014.

The new HFIAA certainly does not repeal all of BW12.  You can see a comprehensive list of all of the changes included in the HFIAA that was compiled by the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) - Analysis of HFIAA, but here are some of the more prominent provisions and changes resulting from the passage of the bill:

  • Repeals provision that triggered full-risk insurance rates for pre-FIRM properties;
  • All policyholders will receive an annual surcharge on their flood insurance bill: $25 for primary residences, $250 for all other properties;
  • Changes the annual flood insurance policy rate increase cap from a maximum of 20% to a maximum of 15%;
  • Establishes a maximum cap of 18% per year in premiums increases on any individual properties (exceptions are noted in the ASFPM Analysis of HFIAA);
  • The Act establishes a new, slower path to full-risk rates for some properties (increasing premiums by at least 5% per year) where grandfathering is not possible;
  • Provides for some exceptions and options to escrow flood insurance premiums during a real estate closing;
  • Increases the residential deductible limits to $10,000 from $5,000
For more information about the background on the passage of BW12 and HFIAA, there is a good article that was published in Slate Magazine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Even More Free Webinar Trainings

This announcement from Alex Sirotek of STARR, a FEMA service contractor.  Alex's email contains more information about upcoming webinars offered through STARR.  If you have any questions about the webinars, please contact Alex (information at the end of the post).

Hello all,

I’d like to present the upcoming free, online trainings available through STARR. These trainings cover a variety of topics, from the NFIP basics through specifics of elevation certificates, and are presented by STARR staff, FEMA, and State organizations. Many of the courses are eligible for CEC credits for Certified Floodplain Managers.

Please feel free to register for any courses you are interested in attending, and invite or pass information on these courses on to potentially interested communities or organizations in your states. Also, if you are interested in using this online platform for any trainings that your state would like to present, STARR can support you in that effort. Please let me know if you’d like additional information on hosting online trainings.

and click the “Upcoming” tab. Below are the courses offered in March:  

March 12, 12:00 pm Eastern – NFIP Basics
This one-hour session will cover the history of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), basic terminology, governing authority and provide an overview of the community's role in floodplain management through the NFIP.  The target audience are state and local officials who need a general understanding of the ins and outs of the program and guidance on where to go for more training and answers.  Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

March 13, 1:00 pm Eastern – Elevation Certificates for A Zones
Training on the proper way to complete FEMA Form 81-31 and best practices for using the Elevation Certification in the floodplain development review process. Special consideration to using the form in A Zone without a BFE.  2 CECs for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers (CFMs) that register and attend individually and pass the learning objectives quiz at the end of the session.  

March 18, 1:00 pm Eastern – CRS Webinar Series: Introduction to CRS
This one-hour session will introduce FEMA's Community Rating System, how it operates, the costs and benefits for communities, where to get help, and how to apply.  The target audience is local officials, floodplain managers, and members of the public interest in flood protection.  The Community Rating System (CRS) provides reduced premiums for flood insurance policy holders in communities that implement programs and activities that exceed the minimum criteria for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.  If your community conducts floodplain mapping, regulatory, loss reduction, emergency management, and/or public information activities, you could benefit from this program.  1 CEC for CFMs.

March 19, 1:00 pm Eastern – CRS Webinar Series: Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
This one-hour session will review CRS Activity 430 (Higher Regulatory Standards).  1 CEC for CFMs.

In addition, here is a summary of courses currently scheduled in April.  Additional courses may be added, so check for the current list:
Apr 9, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013
Apr 15, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Preparing for a Verification Visit
Apr 16, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Developing Outreach Projects
Apr 17, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Elevation Certificates
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you!

Alex Sirotek, GISP, CFM
FEMA Region 1 Regional Service Center
99 High Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Friday, February 28, 2014

Intro to the Community Rating System Webinar

In addition to the other Community Rating System (CRS) Webinars that we listed here, another webinar has been announced that is sponsored by the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA,  This additional webinar will be held on March 10 from 1-2pm EDT (remember that March 9 is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time!).  This webinar is intended as an introduction to the CRS program for anyone who may be interested in learning more about the program basics.

To register for this event, please go to:

From the NHMA announcement:
NHMA is offering a webinar, “Introduction to the Community Rating System.” The Community Rating System (CRS) provides reduced premiums for flood insurance policy holders in communities that implement programs and activities that exceed the minimum criteria for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. If your community conducts floodplain mapping, regulatory, loss reduction, emergency management, and/or public information activities, you could benefit from this program.

This webinar is for people new to the Community Rating System (CRS), especially from communities that are not yet in the program. This one-hour session will introduce FEMA’s Community Rating System, how it operates, the costs and benefits for communities, where to get help, and how to apply. The target audience is local officials, floodplain managers, and members of the public interested in flood protection.

The presenter will be French Wetmore, a CRS consultant.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Alessandra Jerolleman, PhD, CFM, MPA
Executive Director
Natural Hazard Mitigation Association

Again, to register for this webinar, please go to the webinar registration page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spring CFM Exam scheduled for 4/23 in Montpelier

We wanted to announce that a spring Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) exam has been scheduled and confirmed for Wednesday, April 23rd from 9am-12pm located in Montpelier.    

What is the CFM program all about you may ask?  Here is a small excerpt from the ASFPM website about the Program:

The Association of State Floodplain Managers has established a national program for professional certification of floodplain managers. The program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhance the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain managers.

The primary goal of the ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager Program (CFM Program) is to help reduce the nation's flood losses and protect and enhance the natural resources and functions of its floodplains by improving the knowledge and abilities of floodplain managers in the United States.  A second goal of the CFM Program is to increase the prominence of floodplain management in decision-making by local officials and the public.

Additional information regarding ASFPM and the CFM program can be found at ASFPM’s website or the CFM Program page:,  CFM page

General Exam Information:

The exam will be held at the central Agency of Natural Resource office located at 1 National Life Drive in Montpelier.  If you are interested, you are now able to register for this exam with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) office.  All registration forms and ASFPM membership applications should be sent to the ASFPM office in Madison, WI. 

If you are not a member of ASFPM, then the cost to register for the exam is $395.  However, if you join ASFPM as a member for $120, the exam registration fee will only be $100 for a total fee of $220.  If you are planning to become an ASFPM member and register for the exam at the same time, you should send the ASFPM membership form, the exam registration form and payment for both together for the ease of processing.

Please note that all exam registrations must be received by ASFPM no later than 2 weeks before the exam date.  This means that all registration forms need to be received by the ASFPM office no later than Wednesday, April 9th.  Otherwise, if your registration has not been received by 4/9/14, you will not be able to sit for the exam.  The CFM exam registration form and the ASFPM membership form can be found here.

Review Session:
We will also be offering an all-day review session before the exam with the date still to be determined.   The review session will be held in the ANR offices at the National Life Building located in Montpelier. Please contact Rebecca Pfeiffer in advance if you intend to be at the review session so that we can be sure that there will be enough room and so we can determined which date works best for those interested in the review.

If you are interested in taking the exam but would not be ready to do so for the 4/23 date, please contact Rebecca  so that your name will remain on our list of people to contact when we are planning another CFM exam in 2014. 

Please also note that there will be a CFM exam held (somewhat) nearby in Poughkeepsie, NY on March 26.  More information about the exam can be found at the ASFPM website.

Please pass along the word to whomever else you think may be interested in sitting for the exam!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Upcoming Webinars for the Community Rating System (CRS)

There will be several CRS webinar trainings that will be FREE and held over the course of the next few months. In addition to the Introduction to the CRS webinar, there are also some other more specific webinars.  These additional webinars include Developing Outreach Projects (Activity 330) and Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430).  

You can sign up for the webinars either through the website or by going directly to the Atkins Global website, the host for the webinars.

Upcoming Webinar Schedule:

Introduction to the Community Rating System
February 18th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
March 18th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
May 20th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
July 15th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Developing Outreach Projects (Activity 330)
February 19th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
April 16th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
March 19th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Other future webinars that are on their way include:

  • Preparing for the CRS Verification Visit
  • Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
  • Drainage System Maintenance (Activity 540)
  • Natural Floodplain Functions

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Plan Ahead: Future Disasters

In January Vermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding sent a letter to all Select Boards to encourage Vermont communities to become more flood resilient and to take advantage of post-disaster funding available after October 23.

In the wake of a federally-declared disaster Municipalities may be reimbursed for 75 % of eligible damage by federal taxpayers.  Through ERAF (the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund) the State will contribute an additional 7.5 % to help cover the damage costs. However, where communities have taken actions to avoid and reduce future damage they will be eligible for more support from the State.

At this time Select Boards can adopt road standards based on the current 2014 - 2016 Orange Book.  After Town Meeting communities can update their Local Emergency Operations Plans.  By keeping plans current and taking steps to avoid and reduce damage from flooding the State will provide 12.5 or 17.5 % of post-disaster funding.

For more information please see: