On Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3370, the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013,” by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in a 306-91 vote.
Biggert-Waters was a critical piece of legislation that provided for long-term stability of the NFIP. Unfortunately, some significant problems accompanied the implementation of the law’s risk-based pricing provisions. For the last several months, the Big “I” has been advocating that Congress make minor modifications to both Section 205 (bought/sold provision) and Section 207 (grandfathering) of the legislation to both protect the efficacy of Biggert-Waters and ensure that the law works for both individual policyholders and the U.S. economy at large.
The new Grimm-Waters bill would make changes to Biggert-Waters in order to help mitigate the sticker shock some consumers are facing as a result of these two provisions, which created drastic premium increases in many parts of the country. The Senate passed its version of the legislation, S. 1926, the "Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act," on Jan. 30 in a 67-32 vote. S. 1926 would delay implementation of Sections 205 and 207 for effectively four years. In contrast, H.R. 3370 would repeal the entirety of Section 207 and would therefore reinstate the “grandfathering” of policies located in communities with a new or redrawn map. The bill would also stop the elimination of subsidies for pre-FIRM properties that are bought and sold, which is the most problematic provision in Section 205 of Biggert-Waters.
This represents a major win for independent insurance agents, as Section 207 and the bought/sold provision of Section 205 have been the focus of Big “I” efforts with Congress to find a solution. It is widely expected that the Senate will take up the House bill in the near future, potentially as soon as next week, so keep an eye on future editions of News & Views for further developments.
John Prible is Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs.