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House Committee to Unveil NFIP Overhaul Plan Next Week

Posted on 04 Mar 2011

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In speaking with Reuters, Republican representative Judy Biggert, who chairs a House insurance subcommitee, said that Draft legislation to overhaul the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will be unveiled next week on March 11. This is expected to kick off a lengthy debate on the deeply troubled government program.

"We want to make sure we can find some way that taxpayers aren't going to be on the line for a lot of money, which of course has been the case," Biggert said. "We've got a draft. We're working on it..."

The draft excludes wind damage coverage, which was point of contention that put the breaks on the last overhaul effort in 2009. "I don't think that we have it in there ... Not so far. I'm sure that somebody will bring it up," she said.

Insurers such as Allstate Corp, Travelers Cos Inc, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc and Fidelity National Financial Inc. have a a big stake in the NFIP debate.

The NFIP insures more than 5.5 million homes and businesses against floods, the most common of U.S. natural disasters. It has been deeply in debt since the costly hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Repeated efforts in Congress to fix it have failed.

Since 2008, the program has functioned under a series of short-term extensions. Last year, Congress let the program lapse four times, meaning new flood insurance policies could not be written and complicating thousands of real estate transactions daily in flood-prone regions.

Bigger's draft does not yet have a firm strategy for dealing with the NFIP's debt. "We haven't reached that conclusion," she added.