Flood Insurance: Senate to vote Monday on bill to delay flood premium increases

According to an article in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, the US Senate is finally scheduled to vote on Monday to allow debate to proceed on legislation to delay flood premium increases .

To summarize my previous posts on this subject:
– only a small percentage of homes in flood zones carry insurance
– the NFIP has worked well with the exception of major catastrophes
– Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act without understanding the consequences
– FEMA was supposed to complete an affordability study before implementing new rates, but didn’t
– an independent study suggests  that FEMA “used a mapping method fit for the Pacific coast, where the wave periods are much longer and the beaches are straighter, instead of developing a correct approach for New England.”

Other than that…..

As this extract from the Times-Picayune article shows, even if the Bill passes the Senate, passage is not guaranteed in the House.

Key Senate vote on flood insurance delaying bill set for Monday

Monday at 4:30 p.m. CT the Senate is scheduled to vote on a measure that would allow debate to proceed on legislation to delay large flood insurance premium increases for four years. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a lead sponsor of the legislation, is optimistic the measure has the 60 votes needed to move forward and win Senate approval, though prospects in the GOP-led House are less certain.

Over the last several days, the measure gained two new cosponsors, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., bringing the number to 31. It also recently gained the support of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The bill is aimed at blocking large rate increases resulting from the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act, which was designed to make the program fiscally sound. But, according to critics, the law is having the affect of pricing some policies so high as to make them unaffordable.

“After months of work, the Senate will finally debate this critical piece of legislation that will provide basic consumer protections to families who have played by the rules,” Landrieu said. Said. “Nationwide, 5.6 million flood insurance policyholders are waiting for us to provide them some relief, and thanks to the support of this bipartisan coalition, which now includes Sens. Wyden and Stabenow, we are one step closer.”

Smartersafer.org, an insurance industry led coalition, continued to urge defeat of the bill. Instead, it called for some targeted delays and subsidies to people who cannot afford the increases resulting from the law.

“These changes will do more than simply assuage the opposition that has arisen over the past few months — they will target subsidies in the National Flood Insurance Program to those who truly need it while putting the program on stronger financial footing,” the group said in a letter to Speaker John Boehner, who recently expressed opposition to the Senate bill.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

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