H.R. 3370: Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014

H.R. 3370

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014

Date
March 4, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 3370 was introduced by Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) on October 29, 2013 and has 235 cosponsors. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 3370 as amended recognizes the reality that some provisions of the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012 that result in increased premiums are problematic and proposes an alternative that puts the program on a sustainable path.

Specifically, the bill repeals certain premium rate increases and restores grandfathered rates and puts both on a sustainable path. H.R. 3370 sets out annual rate increases and premium surcharges to ensure that all risk categories reach actuarially sound rates. The bill requires FEMA to draft an affordability framework that proposes to address the issues of affordability of flood insurance sold under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); authorizes FEMA to fiscally prepare the NFIP for extreme catastrophes; authorizes FEMA to provide for monthly or more frequent premium payment installment options; authorizes optional high-deductible policies; authorizes FEMA to consider flood mitigation activities when estimating and calculating risk premium rates; and returns the “substantial improvement threshold” to the historic 50 percent of a structure’s fair market value so that renovations can continue without penalty.  

The bill expands the scope of the affordability study required under the Biggert-Waters; requires FEMA to certify in writing to Congress that it has implemented a flood mapping approach that results in technically credible flood hazard data; allows communities to be reimbursed for successful challenges to FEMA maps; prohibits FEMA from considering federal funding or participation when determining the level of protection that a project provides the community; clarifies a monthly reporting requirement regarding the NFIP Reserve Fund transactions; claries that FEMA shall continue to extend exceptions and variances for flood-proofed basements consistent with current regulations; exempts certain fees for certain map change requests; requires FEMA to study the viability of providing community based flood insurance policies; directs FEMA to designate a Flood Insurance Advocate to ensure fair treatment; removes the retroactive component of the NFIP escrow requirement contained in Biggert-Waters; requires FEMA to issue guidelines with one year of enactment for property owners that provide alternative methods of mitigation other than building elevation; requires FEMA to account for non structural flood mitigation features in Flood Insurance rate maps; and clarifies that any private flood insurance accepted by a state shall satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement of providing coverage within that state’s jurisdiction. 

Background

The economic implications of unaffordable flood insurance is devastating home values, small businesses, and entire communities around the country.

On July 6, 2012, the President signed H.R. 4348, MAP-21.  Included in Title II of the bill was the text of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act. Among other things, Biggert-Waters reauthorized the NFIP through 2017 in addition to making a number of substantial reforms. “To achieve financial stability and ensure that flood insurance rates more accurately reflect actuarial risk of flooding, the new law gradually phased out subsidized premiums and grandfathered policies for approximately 19 percent of the programs total number of policy holders.” [1] 

Yet, FEMA’s implementation of the NFIP has caused great concern.  The House voted on June 6, 2013 to pass H.R. 2217, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. Included in the bill was language prohibiting the use of funds from administering or enforcing provisions regarding adjusted premium rates under the NFIP. (See Roll Call #211).  Subsequent to this vote, FEMA released its Specific Rate Guidelines, confirming fears that homeowners and communities will face immediate and drastic rate increases.

On January 15, 2014, the House passed the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3547, which among other things included language prohibiting funds from being used to implement, carry out , administer or enforce Section 1308 (H) of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 during the remainder of FY 2014.[2] (See Roll Call #21).



[2] Section 1308(h) requires FEMA to adjust premiums to reflect the current risk of flood to a property upon the effective date of a revised or updated Flood Insurance Rate Map. The provision includes grandfathered policies. 

Cost

A CBO table can be found here.