In a victory for many homeowners, the Senate voted on Jan. 30 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act – a move that delays rate increases for at least four years. The measure passed with a 67-32 vote, which makes the bipartisan legislation veto-proof.
The National Association of Realtors – a staunch supporter of the legislation – provided Congress with expert testimony suggesting that many of the increases are excessive and inaccurate. The bill also creates a flood insurance advocate within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to investigate homeowner complaints of excessive rate quotes.
The Senate vote sends the measure to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where it faces a tougher sell and some opposition from key leaders.
If the bill fails to gain support in the House, 5.6 million people in 20,000 communities who, according to NAR, currently have flood insurance protection might face significant premium increases that would be detrimental to the housing markets in those areas.
NAR has pushed the government to use the four-year delay to adequately study the affordability of flood insurance in high-risk areas and come up with better solutions that won’t adversely affect homeowners – or hamper the real estate recovery.