In a 72-22 vote, the U.S. Senate passed a flood insurance relief bill today that would limit rate increases paid by some property owners under the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Senate chose to pass the bill as amended and passed by the House last week and it now heads to President Obama’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.

Real estate groups applauded the Senate’s vote on The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which reins in rate hikes they said had stifled home sales in areas designated as flood-risk zones. The bill caps premium increases to 18 percent annually for primary residences.

It also repeals the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s authority to increase premium rates when a home is sold or a new flood map is created. Recent homebuyers who experienced rate hikes will get refunds.

The bill also adds a small assessment on NFIP policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance, according to the National Association of Realtors.


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