Coalition Says Bill Would Endanger Financial Stability of National Flood Insurance Program
WASHINGTON D.C. – With a vote to gut flood insurance reforms expected in the House of Representatives as early as this week, SmarterSafer.org – a coalition of taxpayer watchdogs, environmental groups, insurers, and housing organizations – today urged House members to reject a bill unveiled over the weekend that would repeal key portions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, a move that weakens the National Flood Insurance Program by preserving subsidies regardless of need at the expense of the American taxpayer.
In a statement, SmarterSafer.org said: “Repealing rate increases across the board for newly mapped properties would dismantle the central component of Biggert-Waters and drown the National Flood Insurance Program in a sea of red ink.”
“This approach would inflict far more damage than the Senate’s own bill by sanctioning wasteful subsidies regardless of need in perpetuity. Under the House proposal, lower-risk properties will subsidize higher-risk ones and taxpayers will be on the hook for the rest. The proposal will all but ensure that FEMA has to seek increased borrowing authority the next time there is a big storm, so NFIP’s debt will eventually reach unsustainable levels while providing no recourse for eventually containing that debt. This also masks risk, taking away the incentive for people to protect their lives and property.”
“We urge the House to follow the words of Speaker Boehner and modify Biggert–Waters in a way that protects both homeowners and taxpayers. This should be done through a slower phase-in of risk based rates and help for those cannot afford new rates.”
Rather than embracing shortsighted delays, SmarterSafer.org recommended a number of modifications that would make Biggert-Waters more targeted and efficient. These measures include:
- Setting up a means-tested assistance program that is targeted, temporary, and paid for – outside of the rate structure – to help those with affordability problems pay premiums and undertake mitigation.
- Slowing down rate increases for properties impacted by new maps and home sales.
- Directing the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on how to address affordability more broadly, including how to prioritize mitigation.
- Focusing on mitigation measures at both the individual and community-wide level.