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FBI investigating flood insurance map fraud

Irony: With Biggert-Waters gelded, map lines moot

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On March 21 the White House signed into law comprehensive legislation that effectively washed away the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

The bill, passed with bipartisan support in an election year suspends planned, fiscally responsible rate hikes for flood insurance, as part of an effort to reform the troubled, indebted National Flood Insurance Program, which is in debt to the tune of more than $24 billion. 

The Biggert-Waters Act was passed to ensure the National Flood Insurance Program moves closer to solvency and sound underwriting. It tried to incorporate a more risk-based approach when setting premiums for insurance offered through NFIP. 

Now comes a story out of Florida serving as an example of how the current NFIP system is being abused, shifting the burden of flood insurance away from million-dollar beach homeowners and onto taxpayers.

Ironically, with the Biggert-Waters rates being suspended, whatever map shenanigans and charges arise, it was all for nothing.

FBI agents are interviewing employees at FEMA in an investigation of unusual changes in federal flood insurance maps that benefited oceanfront condo buildings with a history of flooding, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The investigation follows a report by NBC News documenting more than 500 instances in which FEMA has remapped waterfront properties from the highest-risk flood zone, saving the owners as much as 97 percent on the premiums they pay into the financially strained National Flood Insurance Program.

Sitting in on the FBI interviews are investigators from the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the sources. FEMA, which has said it would review the flood map changes identified by NBC, is an agency within the DHS .

NBC News reported on Feb. 18 that FEMA has moved the lines on its flood maps to benefit hundreds of oceanfront condo buildings and million-dollar homes. According to an analysis of federal records by NBC News, the changes shift the financial burden for the next destructive hurricane, tsunami or tropical storm onto the neighbors of these wealthy beach-dwellers — and ultimately onto all American taxpayers.

Source: NBC News
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