MEMORANDUM 

 To: Interested Parties 

From: SmarterSafer.org 

Date: October 30, 2018 

Subject:  Urgent Action Needed on National Flood Insurance Program    


BACKGROUND

 Hurricanes Florence and Michael devastated the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, with estimated damage ranging from $38-45 billion. Recent turbulent climate events should serve as a warning sign to Congress that disaster policy inaction is no longer acceptable. A recent United Nations’ report stated that given current projections, droughts and inundation in coastlines are to intensify at a rapid pace, faster than previously believed. Congress must act on disaster policy and should start by reforming the nation’s indebted National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The NFIP provides insurance coverage to more than five million property owners, renters and businesses and encourages communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. Congress has relegated its responsibility of safeguarding the NFIP for future generations by only extending the program multiple times without passing any substantive, long-term reauthorization and crucial reforms.  

REFORMS FROM CONGRESS ARE CRITICAL

Without meaningful NFIP reform, taxpayers will continue to be saddled with billions in debt, risky development will continue to be encouraged and property owners may be unable to access more affordable private flood insurance. With the onset of catastrophic weather patterns, stalling on reform is no longer an option. Congress must reform the broken program which continues to leave homeowners at risk and costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually.

Congress passed a short-term NFIP extension in late July, once again failing to address the program’s pressing problems, including inadequate accounting and risk communication as well as failure to incentivize mitigation, including community-wide environmentally friendly measures to reduce damage. The program must do more to encourage states, communities and individuals to reduce their vulnerability to current and future flood risk. 

In 2017, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which included necessary reforms to the NFIP such as reauthorizing the program through 2022, requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to communicate a property’s actual flood risk and allowing consumers choice to purchase private flood insurance. While not a permanent solution, this legislation was a step in the right direction, and it is time for the Senate to take the lead and reform the NFIP. 

5 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SMARTERSAFER

 SmarterSafer called for substantive NFIP reform prior to July’s short-term extension. Our national coalition of taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations and mitigation advocates proposes the following reforms:

  1. Focus more on proactive resiliency measures that will lessen the amount of damage when storms hit.  

  2. Update and improve mapping techniques to ensure accurate, up-to-date risk analysis and ensure that rates can accurately reflect risk over time. 

  3. Allow consumer choice in flood insurance policies by clarifying that private insurance meets mandatory purchase requirements; this will allow consumers access to potentially better rates and higher coverage limits. 

  4. Ensure that risks and flood events are communicated to any new purchaser of a property. 

  5. Continue to move towards a system of risk-based rates for all properties while providing assistance to lower-income policyholders, with an emphasis on subsidizing mitigation instead of rates. 

SmarterSafer’s complete set of policy recommendations can be found here.   

Given the intensity of recent natural disasters, it is time to address the underlying issues with the NFIP once and for all. SmarterSafer is open to working closely with lawmakers to advance reforms and will be available to speak with reporters upon request. Reporters interested in speaking with one of SmarterSafer’s members can contact Jayden Lapin at 646-205-7736.  

 To learn more about the SmarterSafer coalition, click here.