Washington lawmakers started 2014 with a battle over flood insurance, as Senators from flood-prone states renewed their push for a freeze on the steep premium hikes that began to take effect last fall (see this Jackson Clarion-Ledger story: "Vote to delay flood insurance premium hikes sought," by Deborah Barfield Berry). But backers of a rate-hike moratorium are fighting an uphill battle against the Senate's procedural rules, and the outcome of the legislative struggle is hard to predict.

Meanwhile, some Florida homeowners have found their own ways to cope with the rate increases triggered by the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act—either by taking a closer look at their home's actual flood risk exposure or, in some cases, by finding coverage from outside the FEMA-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times (see: "Battling flood insurance rate hikes without government help," by Jeff Harrington).

Homeowners Emily and Brian Craig were shocked when the flood insurance premium charged by their insurance carrier jumped from about $2,000 a year to more than $20,000, the Times reports. The Craigs had bought their house after Biggert-Waters passed, so the huge rate hike wasn't phased in over multiple years.

But the couple were able to show that only a portion of their property was in the flood zone, and they were able to get a flood policy from Lloyd's of London for only $3,300 a year. The coverage is minimal, but it's enough to satisfy the Craigs' mortgage lender.

Another Florida homeowner, J. Kurt Petersen, told the Times that he faced a big jump in premiums when his lender missed a payment deadline for the flood policy on his house. But by shopping around with more than one insurance provider, Petersen reduced his tab from $7,000 a year to just $2,900 a year.