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Flood Insurance Bill Passed by Senate


The Senate passed a bill Thursday (1/31/14) to delay certain flood insurance rate hikes.

The bill delays the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

Known as the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014,” it was sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

Its fate now rests with the House of Representatives where some Republican leaders have expressed opposition to the flood insurance delay provisions.

The Senate bill would halt premium hikes by retaining most flood insurance subsidies for four years to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) time to complete an affordability study and guarantee that its flood maps are accurate. The bill would also grandfather low rates for homeowners placed into a flood zone for the first time or moved into a higher-risk flood zone due to remapping.

Earlier this week, the White House expressed budgetary concerns with the flood insurance delay. Although the Obama Administration did not threaten a presidential veto.

The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (Big “I”), which supported the flood insurance measures, cheered the Senate vote.

“The Big ‘I’ is pleased that the Senate has passed this sound piece of legislation that addresses a major legislative priority for the association: flood insurance” said Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO.

“The strong vote from the Senate today shows the importance of addressing the unintended consequences of reforming the flood insurance program. While we remain committed to introducing actuarial rates as required under the Biggert Waters Act, today’s action by the Senate allows that process to move forward with the least disruption to homeowners and supports the worthy goal of returning the NFIP program to solvency,” ABA said in a statement.

“Today’s vote further underscores the need to modify, rather than abandon, badly needed reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. The Senate bill not only fails to address the $24 billion the National Flood Insurance Program owes to taxpayers – it saddles the program with another $2.1 billion in debt,” the group said in a statement. “Fortunately, [House] Speaker [John] Boehner has indicated that he believes modifications to the program – rather than shortsighted delays – is the better way to help Biggert-Waters work for both homeowners and taxpayers. We look forward to working with the Speaker as the House considers its own bill to responsibly reform the flood program in the weeks ahead.”


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