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NAMIC Urges Lawmakers to Focus on Disaster Mitigation

Posted on 07 Jun 2013 by Neilson

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NAMIC on disaster mitigationSupporting research and mitigation efforts can help communities better withstand natural disasters and reduce the need for federal aid in rebuilding, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies said today in support of testimony by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety before a joint hearing of two House subcommittees.

"Mitigation is by far the best and most cost effective means of reducing the losses from a natural catastrophe," said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for NAMIC. "With every dollar of federal spending under heavy scrutiny, we urge Congress to focus on forward-looking policies to reduce the need for taxpayer dollars after future disasters."

The House Science Subcommittees on Research and Technology conducted a joint hearing today to examine the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2013, or HR 1786, introduced by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. Debra Ballen, general counsel and senior vice president for public policy at IBHS, was the witness at the hearing.

"The property insurance industry's research priorities for wind mitigation are directly in line with policyholders' interests--less physical destruction, less economic loss, less societal displacement, fewer injuries and deaths," Ballen said in her testimony, "Breaking the cycle of destruction so that residential and commercial structures do not have to be put back together again and again will benefit building owners, occupants, communities, and insurers."

HR 1786 would authorize the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program through the fiscal year of 2016 and establish the National Institute of Standards and Technology as having primary responsibility for the program.

The legislation would also establish the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Windstorm Impact Reduction to craft a strategic plan for the NWIRP with prioritized goals for mitigation research objectives, clear roles for each agency involved in the program, and the methods for achieving practical results and assessing goals.

"By establishing a lead authority for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program, along with clearly defined goals and the processes to achieve them, Rep. Neugebauer's bill will help streamline our efforts on windstorm research and mitigation," Grande said.

NAMIC continues to strongly support efforts to improve our nation's defense against extreme weather through mitigation as a member of IBHS and one of the founders of the BuildStrong Coalition. In Washington, NAMIC and IBHS have been among leading proponents of the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which would provide additional post-disaster funding for those states that adopt and enforce a model building code.

"The work being done by IBHS has been invaluable in demonstrating how building standards can significantly reduce the damage from extreme weather, and thus the need for federal disaster relief spending," Grande said.