After months of political wrangling, Congress appears close to a deal that would rein in the steep rise in flood insurance premiums that followed the passage in 2012 of the Biggert-Waters bill reforming the troubled National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a measure to scale back some of the NFIP reform's harshest effects on homeowners and the real estate market, Reuters reported on March 4 (see: "Flood insurance bill wins U.S. House passage," by Thomas Ferraro).

"On a vote of 306-91, the Republican-led House sent the measure--the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014--to the Democratic-led Senate for likely final approval," Reuters reports. "With homeowners and businesses facing premiums hikes of up to 10-fold or more as result of a 2-year-old law, the bill would limit annual increases of any individual policy under the National Flood Insurance Program to no more than 18%."

The New Orleans Times-Picayune provides this summary of the House bill's provisions (see: "Summary of flood insurance bill now on House floor," by Bruce Alpert).

One key provision, reports the Tampa Bay Times: The House bill removes the instant premium jump that occurs under Biggert-Waters whenever a primary residence is sold to a new owner (see: "U.S. House overwhelmingly passes flood insurance relief bill," by Alex Leary and Jeff Harrington). "The bill would eliminate a provision of the law that said government-subsidized rates disappear when a person sells a primary home; provide a refund for those who already got hit under that provision; and maintain protections due to sunset for 'grandfathered' properties built to code after a community adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Map," the Times reports.

The Senate has already passed its own, slightly different, revamping of the 2012 NFIP reform law. But the Tampa Bay Times says the sponsors of the Senate bill seemed open to taking up the House measure instead. Said Florida Senator Bill Nelson: "For the sake of policyholders facing massive rate hikes, I hope we can get a final version sent to the president quickly."