A group in the USA representing environmental, insurance, housing and disaster mitigation interests is urging regulators to implement proposal to expand consumer choice for US flood insurance program.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is $25 billion in debt, mostly as a result of claims from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
SmarterSafer, a national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurers and mitigation and housing organizations, today released a series of policy recommendations to comprehensively reform the NFIP, which is up for reauthorization in September.
The recommendations include the developement of private sector competition for flood insurance to “allow 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.”
Also recommended is a shift to a system of risk-based rates while providing assistance for lower-income policyholders, with an emphasis on subsidizing mitigation to reduce risks.
In a statement, SmarterSafer.org said, “The U.S. experienced more floods in 2016 than any other year on record. But our federal flood insurance policy continues to put lives, property, and taxpayer dollars in harm’s way by failing to adapt to extreme weather. Just last month, the NFIP’s debt grew by another $1 billion, meaning the program is over $25 billion in debt to U.S. taxpayers.
“With the NFIP set to expire in September, the SmarterSafer proposal is a roadmap for how Congress can save the program, while better protecting those in harm’s way, taxpayers, and the environment. Putting these reforms in place will give American homeowners greater choice in flood insurance coverage while reducing the damage from future storms. Our coalition looks forward to working closely with Congress to implement these commonsense reforms before the program expires this fall.”
SmarterSafer.org’s NFIP reform proposal outlines how Congress can update and improve the NFIP by better managing the escalating flood impacts in the short-term while reducing those risks over the long-term. These consumer-based reforms ease the financial burden of extreme flooding now borne by federal taxpayers while promoting responsible environmental stewardship.
Other recommendations include the use of accurate mapping techniques and risk analysis to ensure property owners and communities better understand real risk, and a focus on community level, environmentally friendly mitigation efforts in high-risk areas.
Featured photo: Louisiana floods, August 2016. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard