Flood Insurance Toolkit

Legislative History

On July 6, 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) through 2017. While ending the shut downs and short extensions that cost 40,000 home sales each month, implementation problems threatened to undermine real estate transactions where flood insurance is required for a federally related mortgage.

On March 13, 2014, Congress responded by amending the Biggert-Waters Act with the passage of the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.” President Obama signed the below amendments into law on March 21, 2014:

  • Repealed FEMA’s authority to raise premium rates at the time of property sale;
  • Restored grandfathering so properties built to code in one flood zone wouldn’t be re-rated in another simply because of a FEMA map change;
  • Reset flood insurance rates one time back to pre-Biggert Waters levels and refunded overcharges;
  • Limited future premium increases to 18% annually for newer properties and 25% for the older ones;
  • Added a $25/$250 surcharge to NFIP policies until property owners begin paying full-risk rates; and
  • Established the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate to help property owners with faulty flood maps and/or insurance rate quote concerns.

The NFIP was most recently extended on March 23, 2018 through July 31, 2018. Congress must now act by July 31st to reauthorize NFIP to avoid lapsing. The process of drafting the next reauthorization package has included holding hearings and acting on several reform bills that could be considered for inclusion, such as:

  • H.R. 2874, “The 21st Century Flood Reform Act” to reauthorize and make further improvements to the NFIP. On November 24, 2017, the House of Representatives passed this NAR-supported bill, but the Senate has not taken the issue up as of yet. Specifically, the Act,
    • Reauthorizes the NFIP for 5 years;
    • Limits maximum flood insurance premiums to no more than $10,000 per year for residential properties;
    • Preserves the practice of grandfathering for property owners who have built to code;
    • Removes hurdles to the private flood insurance market, which often offers better coverage at lower cost than the NFIP;
    • Authorizes $1 billion in pre-flood mitigation assistance grants to elevate, flood proof, buyout or mitigate high-risk properties;
    • Doubles increased cost of compliance (ICC) coverage in the standard NFIP policy so policyholders may access up to $60,000 for property mitigation prior to a flood;
    • Better aligns NFIP rates to flood risk, particularly for lower risk and value properties inland of the coast;
    • Enables communities to develop more accurate and granular flood maps like North Carolina’s, and streamlines the map appeals process;
    • Improves the claims process in light of problems experienced after Superstorm Sandy;
    • Addresses issues with repeatedly flooding properties that account for 2 percent of NFIP policies but 25 percent of the claim payments over the history of the program; and
    • Strengthens the overall solvency of the program over the long term.
  • H.R. 2901, “The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act” to encourage the development of a private market that offers comparable flood insurance coverage at lower cost than the NFIP.
    • On April 28, 2016, the House of Representatives passed this bill by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 419-0.
    • The Senate did not act on the measure before the end of the session.
  • H.R. 2029, “The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016” to fund NFIP flood mapping ($190 million), property mitigation grants ($175 million), and the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate ($5 million).
    • Enacted into law on December 18, 2015.
  • H.R. 3297, “The Fairness in Flood Insurance Act” to streamline the flood mapping process and reimburse property owners when they appeal and win.
    • Introduced July 29, 2015 but was not taken up in the 114th Congress.

NAR Resources

On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law “The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012” which extended the NFIP for five years and included many program reforms. NAR created a NFIP Resources Page, which includes links to detailed information on the NFIP to help answer REALTOR® questions about the changes coming to the NFIP. Resource page includes;

  • Webinars on Flood Insurance Rates
  • NAR Legal Guidance and Political Advocacy information
  • FEMA Resources
  • Videos from NAR and FEMA
  • Statistics from FEMA
  • Interactive Maps

Click here to visit NAR’s NFIP Resource Page.

FEMA’S Rate Relief Program 

In anticipation of increasing flood insurance rates, FEMA identifies several options that may directly or indirectly result in flood insurance discounts to policyholders.

NFIP Community Rating System

The NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) offers insurance premium discounts (up to 45 percent) for individuals in communities implementing floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements of the NFIP. By implementing CRS floodplain management best practices, flood losses are reduced, public safety is enhanced, and of the cost of flood insurance is decreased.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Program

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities, including elevating properties, that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages.


An Elevation Certificate is an important tool that documents your building’s elevation. This fact sheet provides valuable information for homeowners including guidance for obtaining an Elevation Certificate, which is necessary for determining full-risk rates in high-risk zones. It may also show that you may be paying too much for flood insurance.  


If a person believes their property was incorrectly included in the NFIP-identified Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), they may submit an application to FEMA for a formal determination of the property’s location and/or elevation relative to the SFHA.

Raise the Deductible

As with any other insurance policy, you can always raise the deductible.