SUPER STORM SANDY VICTIMS TAKE ANOTHER FINANCIAL HIT: Thousands of vacation home and business owners in coastal areas of New Jersey slammed by Hurricane Sandy last October are getting hit with big increases in their flood insurance premiums this year.
Richard Bandazian, who owns a vacation home on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk that was actually spared the storm's devastation, saw his insurance bill go up 25 percent to $4,700. And he was told it would keep going up by that amount every year until it reached an unspecified "full premium rate."
The reason for the rate spikes is that last year, before Sandy ever appeared on the radar, Congress passed two laws phasing out flood insurance subsidies the federal government began offering in the 1970s to get property owners and towns to join the federal flood insurance program, which is now deeply in debt.
Some members of New Jersey's Congressional delegation are now trying to convince their colleagues to reverse course on the issue to spare those still trying to recover from Sandy.
"It's a triple whammy," said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey). "Even as we slowly recover from the worst natural disaster in our state's history, a man-made disaster is looming in the distance, jeopardizing our recovery. Those who cannot afford the higher premiums will be either forced to sell or abandon their homes."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), likewise, has appealed to Washington for relief.
"Foisting the additional burden of a flood insurance increase on home and business owners as currently proposed would be financially devastating," he stated in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
But Christie and Menendez face opposition from free-market conservatives and some environmentalists who contend that flood insurance rates should be higher to discourage developers from building in coastal areas.
Bandazian, meanwhile, points out a flaw in one of the arguments behind the insurance subsidy phase-out: that millionaires ought to shoulder more of the burden of insuring their beach houses.
"They're saying only rich people are able to have houses at the Jersey Shore," he said. "I worked a lifetime to get my beach house, and I'm not a rich guy." (NORTHJERSEY.COM)
- Compiled by KORLEY CLARK
BUSINESS: The ARIZONA Senate endorses HB 2281, legislation that requires landlords to provide written notice to tenants within five business days of their property going to foreclosure. The law previously only required notice if a provision was in the lease. It moves to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) for review (ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES [PHOENIX]).
- Compiled by RICH EHISEN
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