In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), SmarterSafer.org today said they are pleased that the House of Representatives supports reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) but cautioned that specific amendments should be added – and removed – from the current legislation to make the program more fiscally sound and effective.
“H.R. 1309 goes a long way in moving the program to risk based rates and ensuring flood insurance can continue for those at risk,” said SmarterSafer.org. “However, there are changes that should be made to better protect taxpayers and the environment.”
Read the Letter HERE:
SmarterSafer.org said two proposed amendments should be added to the bill to make the NFIP more viable for U.S. taxpayers.
• Amendment 3, offered by Rep. Flake (R-AZ) would strike from the bill a section allowing the program to sell additional coverages. Until rates are fully risk based, any expansion in program coverages and limits will burden American taxpayers.
• Amendment 4, offered by Rep. Waters (D-CA) would streamline and make permanent three key programs that help mitigate against flood damage and protect the environment while reducing unnecessary losses due to repetitive flood loss claims to the same properties. Repetitive loss claims cost the fund an estimated $200 million per year.
Several proposed amendments to the current legislation should be opposed as they provide unnecessary subsidies during difficult economic times, according to SmarterSafer.org.
• Amendment 11 would slow down moving the program to risk based rates.
• Amendment 14, sponsored by Rep. Cardoza (D-CA) would eliminate requirements to more broadly map areas considered to be residual risk. Residual risk areas are the places behind levees and below dams that would be inundated if a levee or dam failed.
• Amendment 18, sponsored by Rep. Scott (D-VA) would waste federal resources on studying whether the federal government should provide a federal reinsurance backstop to homeowners’ insurance policies.
• Amendment 19, sponsored by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) would delay needed mapping upgrades, which would also delay needed protection.
• Amendment 23, offered by Rep. Bachus (R-AL) would allow for a delay in mandatory purchase requirements for up to five years instead of the three in the current bill.
“If the NFIP provides us any lesson, it is that federal insurance is not accurately priced,” said SmarterSafer.org. “Federal taxpayers are already subsidizing insurance rates through NFIP. This should be stopped, not expanded.”
The NFIP is in serious need of reform. The program is currently $18 billion in debt and that number will likely grow as a result of recent flooding. If NFIP is to continue to provide needed protection to millions of Americans in harm’s way, the program must be put on sound financial footing.
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