March 13, 2014

Senate passes NFIP premium hike relief

March 14, 2014 – The Senate yesterday passed H.R. 3370, a bill to implement NAFCU-sought delays in flood insurance premium hikes, which was approved by the House earlier this month.

The bill passed in a 72-22 vote; it now heads to the president for his signature.

H.R. 3370 was sponsored by Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and passed the House 306-91 on March 4. The measure would amend the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act by:

  • reinstating the grandfathering of premiums to prevent catastrophic rate increases due to Federal Emergency Management Agency remapping,
  • remove the home sale rate increase trigger,
  • provide a refund of excess premium charges already paid under Biggert-Waters,
  • lower the cap on rate increases to 15 percent, and
  • establish a per property rate increase limit.

The issue has been championed in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., who both spoke in favor of the measure during Senate floor debate.

As part of the Senate agreement to move the bill forward, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, added a separate stand-alone measure to address his concerns about allowing refunds to homeowners who bought second homes after Biggert-Waters took effect, triggering increases to actuarial rates. That measure passed by voice vote after the Senate action on H.R. 3370, but still needs approval in the House.

Before H.R. 3370 passed in the House, NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler wrote House leaders in support of the legislation, saying: "NAFCU believes reinstating grandfathered rates and removing the home sale rate increase trigger will help bring a level of certainty to the program, its participants, and the larger housing market."