The problems facing the National Flood insurance Program (NFIP) have not changed and will not improve unless Congress acts to reform the program, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) said on Thursday.
“The fundamental structural flaws within the NFIP are the same now as they were six months ago, a year ago and almost six years ago when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast,” said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs at NAMIC. “Now is the time for Congress to act, and we urge the Senate to take up and pass NFIP reform legislation prior to the September 30 deadline.”
At a hearing today, the Senate Banking Committee will hear from representatives of the Government Accountability Office and other stakeholders. The GAO recently released a report offering recommendation for Congress similar to those NAMIC has made in recent years calling for Congress to allow the NFIP to charge premiums more reflective of the flood risk facing a property, improve the flood maps used to determine high risk areas and expand the program’s authority to deal with repetitive loss properties. NAMIC further outlined its principles of reforms in testimony submitted to the committee.
“The NFIP must be allowed to charge prices that reflect the risk of flooding for a property, and modernized maps will ensure we determine that risk based on the best scientific data available,” said Grande. “The reforms we’ve called for will allow the NFIP to provide coverage for more homeowners and businesses and help to mitigate against future losses for those properties that have been repeatedly flooded.”
Legislation in the House, H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., includes many of the reforms NAMIC has called for. The bill was passed unanimously by the House Financial Services Committee, and is currently awaiting a vote on the House floor. Currently the NFIP is set to expire after September 30 unless Congress acts to extend the program.
“A stronger NFIP will benefit the homeowners facing flood risks and reduce the potential burden on the taxpayers,” Grande said. “There are no more excuses for delay. As we wait amidst the Hurricane season for the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts with already historic levels of flooding across the country, Congress can no longer kick this can down the road. We need reform and reauthorization now.”