Flood Program Is Due To Expire Next Year, Giving Congress An Opportunity To Enact Meaningful Updates
WASHINGTON — SmarterSafer, a national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurers and mitigation and housing organizations, released a series of recommendations today to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in advance of the House Financial Services Committee’s NFIP hearing on Tuesday. The NFIP, which is up for reauthorization in 2017, is currently $23 billion in debt and straining to remain viable.
“Our nation’s disaster policy is a disaster in itself – NFIP continues to be in debt to American taxpayers, while not helping people in harm’s way understand their risk, or reduce the risks they face,” said Steve Ellis, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The billions of dollars in damages from recent floods in South Carolina, the Midwest, Texas and California are clear examples of why Congress must act now to ensure that we have policies in place to help Americans reduce the damage from future storms, while providing them greater choice in flood insurance coverage.”
“There is no denying the fact that severe storms are more frequent than ever before, and it is time to update our disaster policies to reflect this new reality,” said Joshua Saks, Legislative Director of the National Wildlife Federation. “Putting these reforms into place will protect our natural ecosystems, prevent damage to the environment and, most importantly, save lives.”
The highlights of SmarterSafer’s recommendations include:
- Allowing consumers choice in flood insurance policies by ensuring private insurers have access to the flood insurance market, giving consumers access to better rates and higher coverage limits.
- Ensuring that as properties move to private sector insurance, FEMA can provide insurance of last resort and can focus on mapping, flood standards and mitigation.
- Phasing out subsidies and shifting toward a system of risk-based rates while providing assistance to lower-income policyholders, with an emphasis on subsidizing mitigation instead of rates.
- Updating and improving mapping techniques to ensure accurate, up-to-date risk analysis so that rates can accurately reflect risk.
- Expanding the mandatory purchase requirement so that properties in flood-prone areas have needed insurance coverage.
- Focusing more on proactive resiliency measures that will lessen the amount of damage when storms hit.
See SmarterSafer’s complete set of policy recommendations here.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition that is made up of a diverse chorus of voices united in favor of environmentally responsible, fiscally sound approaches to natural catastrophe policy that promote public safety. The coalition believes that the Federal government has a role in encouraging and helping homeowners to undertake mitigation efforts to safeguard their homes against natural disasters. At the same time, the coalition opposes measures that put people’s lives at risk at the expense of taxpayers. Measures such as subsidizing artificially low rates for homeowners’ insurance policies help to encourage construction in environmentally sensitive and unsafe areas. The coalition is working to ensure that Congress does not incentivize people to live in harm’s way in places prone to hurricanes and floods.