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U.S. House passes bill modifying flood insurance requirements


September 29, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that modifies requirements for purchasing flood insurance and provides tax incentives for individuals and businesses affected by recent hurricanes in the country.

In this Sept. 15, 2017, photo, a house rests on the beach after collapsing off a cliff from Hurricane Irma in Vilano Beach, Fla. The hurricanes that battered Texas and Florida likely spawned the worst disaster-created housing crunch since Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents without homes more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Introduced in the House on Sept. 25, the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, the bill specifies that private flood insurance offered outside of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) “satisfies the requirement for homeowners to maintain flood insurance coverage on properties that have federally-back mortgages and are located in a flood zone.”

The NFIP was set to expire Sept. 30.

The act also modifies several tax provisions and rules for individuals and businesses in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, including provisions regarding: early withdrawals and loans from retirement plans, employment-related tax credits, deductions for charitable contributions, deductions for personal casualty losses and income requirements for the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.

Related: NFIP losses from Hurricane Harvey estimated to reach US$7-10 billion: RMS

The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 also extends several federal aviation programs, aviation taxes and public health programs, and reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for six months.

SmarterSafer.org, a national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations and mitigation advocates, applauded the House for passing the bill, saying in a statement on Thursday that it includes a provision that “would help alleviate the [NFIP] by allowing for more consumer choice in the flood insurance marketplace.”

“This technical correction to the federal flood insurance law is an integral part of an ongoing effort to comprehensively reform the broken NFIP, which is US$25 billion in debt and struggling to remain viable,” SmarterSafer said in the statement. “As we have seen in the recent flooding events, far too many Americans are without this vital coverage and will have trouble rebuilding in the days, weeks and months ahead. But fostering a more robust marketplace for private insurers will help give more Americans access to flood insurance they desperately need while driving down costs across the board. We thank the entire House for passing this critical, bipartisan provision, and we urge the Senate to build on this momentum by also passing this bill.”