Insurance Trade Groups Support Hazard Mitigation Legislation Introduced by Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson

July 17, Washington, DC:  Insurance trade associations representing the overwhelming share of US primary insurance and reinsurance markets today applauded Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, for his leadership in introducing three pieces of legislation recently that will go a long way towards making America a more disaster resistant nation.   The legislation was endorsed by the:  American Insurance Association, the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Reinsurance Association of America.

In a joint statement speaking about the three bills (HR 3026, HR 3027 and HR 3028) the associations stated:

To effectively deal with natural disaster threats, American public policy must put hazard mitigation front and center.  Without doing so, policy makers will fall into an insurance subsidy trap that will camouflage the reality of the situation and delay essential efforts to protect people and property.

Congressman Thompson’s proposed Pre-disaster Hazard Mitigation Enhancement Program represents a smart and much needed focus on pre-disaster mitigation, a key step to reducing the physical and financial toll of hurricanes. By providing states with grant funding, the Congressman’s program will encourage states to adopt innovative initiatives from other states, such as the My Safe Florida Home Program. This initiative, and a similar program in South Carolina, has proven highly effective in encouraging citizens to make investments in strengthening their homes against hurricanes. A key to success for both programs has been their use of incentives to encourage homeowners to make mitigation investments. We hope the Congressman’s legislation and the funding associated with it will lead to the replication of these highly successful programs in other hurricane prone states.

We also applaud Congressman Thompson for his commitment to help low income Americans become better protected against hurricanes and other natural disasters. Low income Americans, especially those who live in public housing, are uniquely vulnerable to hurricanes since very few public housing units have been retrofitted with hurricane resistant technologies. Congressman Thompson’s Hazard Mitigation For All Act will help eliminate this problem by providing much needed incentives for the retrofitting of Section 8 housing.  All Americans deserve protection against hurricanes regardless of income and the Congressman’s proposed legislation will go a long way towards addressing the current inequity on this front.

Finally, we are pleased to salute the Congressman’s proposed First Responder Innovation & Support Act of 2009. As a former fireman, Congressman Thompson knows that first responders understand best the unique disaster recovery needs of their community. The proposed grant program would provide much needed funding for innovative programs to help first responders address the needs of special populations such as children or the elderly.

Congressman Thompson’s legislative initiatives will go a long way towards making America a more disaster resistant nation by expanding pre-disaster mitigation programs, especially for our most vulnerable citizens.   We wholeheartedly urge other members of Congress to recognize the Congressman’s leadership on these issues by supporting his proposed hurricane mitigation legislation.  The associations also noted that they have supported state based hazard mitigation programs including the My Safe Florida Home program and various South Carolina initiatives aimed at encouraging individual consumer action to better protect their property.

American Insurance Association (AIA)
Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR)
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC)
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI)
Reinsurance Association of America (RAA)

For more information contact:

Blain Rethmeier, American Insurance Association, 202-828-7132,
Brad Kading, Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, 202-783-2434,
Marliss McManus, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, 202-580-6746,
Marguerite Murer-Tortorello Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 847-553-3604,
Frank Nutter, Reinsurance Association of America, 202-638-3690,