As Hurricane Season Kicks Off, SmarterSafer.org Urges Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi to Pass Comprehensive NFIP Reform

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON ‒ At the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season, SmarterSafer.org urged House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to consider a broad range of measures to help better protect Americans from future hurricanes, including reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

In letter sent to the Leadership, Smartersafer.org asked that flood reform include policies that will better prepare the nation for future disasters, avoid burdening American taxpayers, and prevent expansion of the federal deficit, while steering clear of any acts that further incentivize Americans to live in harm’s way and in environmentally sensitive areas.

“As hurricane season begins, the federal government should help people protect themselves not encourage them to live in harm’s way through subsidized insurance.” said SmarterSafer.org. “We urge you to pass comprehensive flood insurance reform, support mitigation, and reject expensive and unnecessary proposals to create a federal insurance backstop.”

The coalition said long-term comprehensive reform of the NFIP should promote mitigation measures that will ensure properties and communities can withstand hurricanes and other storms. For every dollar spent on risk-reducing measures, four dollars are saved in clean up and rebuilding costs, in addition to lowering the costs of government and privately-provided insurance, SmarterSafer.org said. The letter said preventative measures should be improved and included in any government disaster planning.

SmarterSafer.org also said it opposed efforts to create a public insurance scheme that would move most insured losses – that are now covered by the private sector through insurance and reinsurance – onto the backs of taxpayers. These efforts, SmarterSafer.org said, would displace the private market and replace it with federal government insurance.

NFIP reform has broad bipartisan support. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP in July 2011 that had meaningful reforms by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 406-22, and the Senate Banking Committee unanimously reported a similar bill in September. SmarterSafer.org said both bills include reforms that would benefit U.S. taxpayers.

“These bills would ensure flood maps are accurate and updated, would phase out expensive subsidies, and would allow the program to access private sources of financing – all of which will put the program on sounder financial footing,” said SmarterSafer.org. “We urge the House and the Senate to quickly find common ground on flood insurance reform and send a meaningful reform bill to the President’s desk.”
The NFIP is nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase without reform. The program covers 5.6 million households across the country and has more than $1.25 trillion in exposure.

The NFIP has continued on short-term reauthorizations since its last long-term authorization expired in September 2008. These short-term extensions resulted in 53 days of temporary lapses in 2010, and the NFIP was temporarily extended four times in 2011. The current NFIP extension is set to expire during hurricane season on June 30, 2012.

SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.

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Contact: Matt Englehart
(202) 415-5313