Gov. Josh Shapiro was in Lower Bucks County on Monday to hold a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 735, which establishes a Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force.
The location of the event at the Yardley Inn overlooking the Delaware River in Yardley Borough was not an accident.
Shapiro joined Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner Michael Humphreys; Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield; State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat from Lower Makefield Township; State Sen. Frank Farry, a Republican from Langhorne Borough; State Rep. Perry Warren, a Democrat from Newtown Borough; State Rep. Joe Hogan, a Republican from Middletown Township; Bucks County Commissioner Chairperson Bob Harvie, a Democrat; Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, a Democrat; and Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican, to ceremonially sign the bill.
House Bill 735 was introduced by Warren and received support from the bipartisan group of state lawmakers in attendance.
The bill sets up the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force to develop policies to increase access and affordability to flood insurance, which has been an issue along the Delaware River and Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County.
The task force will focus on increasing access to affordable flood insurance, a critical issue along the Delaware River and Neshaminy Creek. Its mandate includes examining programs for premium discounts, incentivizing local governments for flood mitigation, and recommending changes to state policies on flood insurance.
Humphreys, the state’s insurance commissioner, will chair the task force, according to Shapiro.
The bill was officially signed into law last month, but the Bucks County event comes after years of devastating flooding events along the river and creeks. In summer, seven people died in Upper Makefield Township after severe flash flooding.
Lawmakers who represent Bucks County have long heard complaints from residents about rising flood insurance premiums.
“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, providing assistance to rescue and recovery efforts, set up detours, and keep people safe,” said Shapiro.
The governor added: “The task force established by HB 735 will bring together leaders from my administration and the legislature to closely review the needs of our communities who are at an increased risk of flooding. They’ll identify the kinds of programs that would make sure flood insurance is accessible and affordable for the Pennsylvanians who need it – and recommend the best courses of action our commonwealth can take to help increase the number of Pennsylvanians protected by flood insurance.”
Warren said the law gained bipartisan support and moved forward after the summer flooding.
“As vice-chair of the House Insurance Committee, this new law combines the committee’s efforts to contain insurance costs while expanding insurance coverage, with our efforts to reduce and contain the cost of flooding. Senator Santarsiero and I worked with our local communities to forward this legislation, and Governor Shapiro coming to Yardley to sign the bill evinces the positive impact Act 22 will have for our communities. I look forward to the recommendations of the task force,” Warren stated.
When Santarsiero was a member of the House, he has introduced a bill to deal with flood insurance premiums. He noted Warren continued his fight to help those “facing skyrocketing flood insurance costs.”
“This is an important step toward helping Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth find relief from rising flood insurance premiums,” the state senator said.
Farry said the issue is important due to the many flooding events in Bucks County, and the increasing flood insurance cost for residents.
“This task force is important to take a look at all aspects of flooding affecting the commonwealth. We’ve heard from residents over the years over the flood insurance rates. Hopefully the task force can come forward with some recommendations,” Farry said.
Hogan said the task force’s work will help Bucks Countians.
“As we have seen over the years, no part of Bucks County is immune from the horrific effects of flooding water ways. I want to thank my colleague Rep. Perry Warren for leading on this issue and for Governor Shapiro for recognizing that in Bucks County, we work together to get things done. I look forward to reviewing the task force’s recommendations in the coming months,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department stated that standard homeowner and renter policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program and private insurers, including surplus lines insurers. Coverage options extend to almost any building and its contents, including rental property and condominiums. Tenants can also secure protection for their belongings.
For flood-impacted Pennsylvanians, the department’s website offers resources for filing insurance claims and avoiding repair scams. Additional information on flood insurance and disaster recovery is available on the department’s dedicated disaster page.
Consumers with questions or complaints can contact the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau online or at 1-877-881-6388.