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Flood Insurance Reform Heads to the President for Signature

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act Heads to the White House!  From NAR: On March 13, 2014, the United States Senate voted 72-22 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The Senate acted quickly to pass the bill as amended by the House to avoid the need for a conference committee to reconcile any differences. The new bill further reins in and holds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the Biggert-Waters implementation issues.

As passed, the bill repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law when it arrives at the White House.

Here is the National Association of Realtors’ postion in the Bill:  CLICK HERE

Realtors, homebuilders and lenders generally supported the legislation to unwind Biggert-Waters while some environmental and taxpayer groups oppose it.

The insurance industry was split over it.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) has called the bill an unnecessary “overreaction” and said it is disappointed in today’s Senate vote.

“Today’s vote continues a move down the wrong path by Congress on flood insurance reform,” said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for NAMIC.

Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said the bill addresses some of the “unintended consequences”of Biggert-Waters.

The measure was supported by independent agents, although they preferred the Senate version because it also contained provisions to streamline agent licensing and create the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB).

“Today’s Senate vote represents a major victory for independent insurance agents, as Section 207 and the bought/sold provision of Section 205 were the two specific items that the Big ‘I’ has been asking Congress to revisit,” said Charles Symington, Big “I” (Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America) senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The startling pace with which Congress acted in order to fix the unintended effects of these two provisions in Biggert-Waters, itself less than two years old, should be commended.”

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