Flood rates could remain low, for now
The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve legislation that would block dramatic increases in premiums paid by property owners covered under the federal flood insurance program.
According to USA Today, the 306-91 vote follows a Senate vote on Jan. 30 approving similar legislation. The Senate could vote on the House version by the end of the week.
“Relief is on the way,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said before the vote.
Under the House bill, called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, premiums under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could increase no more than 18% per property annually.
The premium increases were required under a 2012 law that was designed to make the government’s flood insurance program financially solvent by bringing rates in line with flooding risks.
Premiums under the program have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, and the program is $24 billion in debt.
The House measure also would repeal a provision that increases premiums — up to the full-risk rate over five years — when the Federal Emergency Management Agency adopts new flood maps.
Under the compromise, homes that met code when they were built would be protected from rate spikes due to new flood mapping.
In addition to capping annual premium increases at 18%, the House bill also would allow people buying homes covered under the federal flood insurance program to pay the subsidized premium rate at first, rather than the higher rate reflecting true flooding risk.