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House to propose its own flood insurance bill, you know, soon

The House of Representatives is getting closer to acting on legislation addressing the rate hikes imposed by the National Flood Insurance Program. While the companion bill to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act passed by the Senate has more than 225 co-sponsors, it is looking less and less likely that the House will follow in the Senate's footsteps. What is not clear at all is what direction the House bill will take and how far it will stray from the Senate's; House leadership has been mum on the details.

The House is controlled by the Republican Party, and Republicans have generally opposed efforts to back away from the NFIP reforms put in place under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Residents in Florida and other flood-prone states, however, have urged both houses of Congress to delay the increases that resulted from NFIP's move to a more "actuarially sound" rating system as required by Biggert-Waters.

Opponents to the Senate bill, including the Obama administration, have publicly supported more targeted relief, helping individual homeowners whose insurance premiums are unmanageable. They believe the Senate bill goes too far with its sweeping four-year moratorium on rate hikes. As one House leader said, "The Senate bill irresponsibly removes much needed reforms and imposes additional costs on taxpayers.”

He added that the House is focusing on protecting NFIP (from drowning in its own $24 billion deficit) as well as protecting homeowners "from unreasonable and unrealistic premium increases.” Commentators speculate that the House bill will be the Senate's Affordability Act Lite. A draft may be ready by the week of Feb. 24.

Source: Insurance Journal, "House Leader Promises Vote on Flood Insurance Rate Delay," Andrew G. Simpson, Feb. 14, 2014

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