National Flood Insurance Bill Passes Congress

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  • Over the past several months, there has been considerable debate about the ways in which coming changes to the National Flood Insurance Program will end up impacting consumers across the country. With costs expected to skyrocket over the next few years, many lawmakers and consumer advocates alike were concerned about the effect this would have on coastal communities, and as such, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill to help keep these expenses down. This could be good news for insurance agents, as well as residents, because consumers may now be less likely to try to cut costs on the other types of home insurance.

    The House’s version of the bill will cap premium increases for the NFIP at 18 percent per year, once again update flood maps, and grandfather in rates for older buildings, according to a report from the Birmingham News. This bill will now be considered by the U.S. Senate, which earlier this year passed its own overhaul of the NFIP changes. Without further action, many who live in flood areas could see their premiums increased precipitously as the federal program tries to better cover its own costs.

    “Real lives and livelihoods are at stake in this debate,” U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, a Republican representing Fairhope, Alabama, who voted in favor of the legislation, told the newspaper. “This bill will ease the process of implementation by placing the power of appeal in the hands of the policy holder, creating a flood insurance advocate and allowing for reimbursement to communities who successfully challenge flood maps.”

    A point of contention
    However, the bill still has its critics, many of whom believe that it is irresponsible for the federal government to subsidize consumers’ home insurance costs in any way, especially given the risk that those in flood areas now face on what seems to be a more regular basis, the report said. Some also argue that this issue needs to be addressed more comprehensively than the current legislation would allow, as many see it to be simply delaying the problem.

    Many insurance agents across the country will need to keep close tabs on the ways federal and state lawmakers move to act with regard to such concerns in the near future. Whatever legislative decisions are made by these officials could end up having a major impact on the ways in which consumers can afford all of their home insurance bills.