House approves bill to ease flood insurance hikes

The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.

The bill would allow sellers to pass along their subsidized, below-market insurance rates to new buyers and lower the limit on how much flood insurance premiums can rise each year. The measure was approved 306-91.

Rep. Michael Grimm, a New York Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said it would ensure that families across the country, including those still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, can avoid “a wave of devastating premium hikes and foreclosures.”

The bipartisan bill would tone down a 2012 law aimed at weaning hundreds of thousands of homeowners off subsidized flood insurance rates. The federal flood insurance program is now some $24 billion in the red, mostly because of huge losses from Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. The 2012 law required extensive updating of the flood maps used to set premiums.

Sun Herald
3/5/14