NAHB Applauds Passage of Senate Flood Insurance Bill

January 30, 2014 - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today applauded Senate passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S. 1926), legislation that would provide relief from soaring flood insurance premium rates for countless home owners across the nation and contains an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that is critical to the health of the remodeling industry.

“The bill will resolve some of the costly and unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, including huge premium spikes and impacts on the sale, construction and remodeling of homes across the nation,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would:

• Delay insurance rate increase for all primary residences until an affordability study is completed.

• Require that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) take into account all local flood control structures while mapping.

• Allow consumers to appeal FEMA’s mapping decisions and to be reimbursed for their appeal expenses.

• Reinstates an exemption in 53 communities nationwide for basements that are built a certain way.

Sen. Blunt’s amendment would return the “substantial improvement threshold” that triggers a higher flood insurance rate to the historic 50 percent level of a structure’s fair market value, which is important for many remodelers across the nation.

When the threshold was lowered to 30 percent under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, it acted as a potential disincentive for home owners to hire remodelers, as even the simplest of remodeling jobs, like installing new appliances or updating bathrooms or kitchens, could have resulted in many homes reaching the 30 percent threshold and triggering higher premium rates.

“These provisions will help prevent undue hardship in the recovering housing market, help current and future policyholders keep their premiums affordable, protect home values and make the National Flood Insurance Program more effective,” said Judson. “We urge the House to act on a companion bill soon.”

Resolving the issue of flood insurance affordability is important to keep the housing recovery on track. NAHB commends Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) for their efforts to pass this bill through the Senate.

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