The Senate has reached an agreement on amendments to S.1926, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. 

In a 67-32 vote, the Senate has passed a bill to delay premium hikes for up to four years on hundreds of thousands of homeowners who buy flood insurance from the federal government. The plan also allows homeowners with certain flood insurance policies to transfer them to people who buy their houses, according to the Washington Post.

The flood insurance program was designed to offer below-cost rates for homeowners in flood zones and has incurred $25 billion in debt since 1968. The National Flood Insurance Program was de-subsidized in 2012 as part of the Biggert-Waters flood insurance reform law, a measure that was attached to a federal transportation bill and coupled with an extension of federal student loan subsidies.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) issued a statement opposing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act

“PCI strongly supports a financially sound National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” said Nat Wienecke, SVP, federal government relations for PCI. “However, we oppose passage of S.1926. We understand that S.1926 is designed to address issues impacting flood insurance policyholders following the enactment of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, yet the legislation does not address the ‘unintended consequences’ of Biggert-Waters.”

PCI’s members include more than two-thirds of the insurers that partner with the NFIP through the “write-your-own” (WYO) program to sell, service, and administer this federal program. “PCI will continue to work with the Senate and House to offer appropriate changes that protect both consumers and the long-term fiscal soundness of the flood insurance program,” concluded Wienecke.

The legislation also contained the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II) Reform Act of 2013, which PCI supports. “NARAB II is commonsense legislation and it would create a streamlined agent and broker licensing system that strengthens the competitive insurance market while maintaining important consumer protections,” Wienecke said. “It sets precedent for state-based uniform national reform as it allows agents and brokers to more efficiently operate on a multi-state basis.”

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (The Big “I”) applauds the passage of S. 1926, saying NARAB II will “achieve much-needed reciprocity in producer licensing and help policyholders by permitting greater competition among agents and brokers. This legislation would build upon regulatory experience at the state level, promote greater consistency in agent and agency licensing, and ease the burden that many agents face in doing business across state lines.” Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO added: “The bill will also provide for streamlined non-resident insurance agent and broker licensing while preserving state insurance regulation and consumer protections.” 

Representing the life insurance sector, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) issued a statement. “For the first time ever, the Senate has voted to pass NARAB II legislation to help streamline and improve the insurance licensing process for thousands of financial advisors across the nation,” said IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “This significant action is an important step toward removing a regulatory barrier that has been impeding broker-dealers’ ability and financial advisors’ willingness to sell lifetime income products.”

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