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Spending Bill Provides Some Flood Insurance Hike Relief

JAN 15, 2014 1:41pm ET

Congress is set to pass an omnibus appropriations bill that includes a provision that would temporarily halt flood insurance premium hikes on grandfathered properties with subsidized rates.

The flood insurance provision stops the annual 20% increases in premiums on grandfathered properties that are mandated by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act that Congress passed in 2012.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was planning to begin the 20% premium increases later this year, but the omnibus bill directs FEMA not to start any work on the phase-out of the subsidized rates until Oct. 1.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., pushed the appropriators to include this flood insurance provision in the omnibus bill, but she still wants Congress to pass a comprehensive flood insurance reform bill that would delay all premium hikes required by the Biggert-Waters Act until FEMA completes an affordability study.

“We still have work to do and cannot rest until we pass the bipartisan, comprehensive Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act that will provide greater relief to Louisiana homeowners and businesses who played by the rules and deserve nothing less,” she says.

The National Association of Realtors and other trade groups also support a comprehensive flood insurance affordability bill (S.1846) that would delay all flood insurance premium hikes for up to four years.

“While the language in the omnibus spending bill is helpful, it does not go far enough to support the millions who are impacted by the exponential price increases,” says NAR president Steve Brown.

Anyone who purchases a home today has to pay the full-unsubsidized annual flood insurance premium at closing. The omnibus bill would not stop that.

“S.1846 would delay the uncapped, point-of-sale increases until FEMA submits its affordability study,” Brown says.