Senate Passes Flood Bill to Delay Premium Hikes

The Senate has passed a bill that would delay flood insurance premium hikes that could discourage home sales and disrupt real estate markets.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability bill (S.1926) cleared the Senate by a 67-32 vote and now the measure goes to the House where its prospects are unclear.

“This bipartisan bill will save many homeowners thousands of dollars a year and protect America’s recovering housings market,” said Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the bill delays the “most pernicious provisions” of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act that Congress passed in 2012.

“With more than 180 bipartisan House members backing a similar bill, I urge the House to quickly bring it to the floor for an up-and-down vote. Our people and our economy cannot wait any longer,” the Louisiana senator said.

The bill delays certain premium hikes mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act until the Federal Emergency Management Agency completes an affordability study and Congress approves the new premium structure.

The Senate bill specifically prevents situations where a homebuyer has to pay the fully unsubsidized annual flood insurance premium at closing.

The seller may have paid $800 for flood insurance. But the buyer could see the annual premium go up to $5,000, which could be deal killer.

Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., co-sponsored the flood insurance bill, which survived a filibuster by a 86-13 vote and budget point of order by a 64-35 vote.

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