Thank you, Senator Tester and Senator Vitter for your leadership on this important issue.
My name is Chuck Chamness and I am the President and CEO of the The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the nation's largest property/casualty insurance trade association. Our 1,400 member companies account for more than 50 percent of the homeowners/automobile insurance market and 31 percent of the business insurance market in the United States. Our members are mutual insurance companies that operate solely for the benefit of their policyholders, who essentialy own the companies. NAMIC members represent a cross-section of the property/casualty insurance industry - from very large to very small - and in all parts of the country.
NAMIC strongly urges Congress to pass legislation reforming the National Flood Insurance Program and providing for a long-term extension. We respectfully urge Majority Leader Reid to work for quick passage of this legislation by the full Senate. In a sharply divided Congress, flood insurance reform receives rare but overwhelming bipartisan support. We therefore applaud the leadership of these 41 Senators in calling for a vote on the Senate flood bill.
More than 5.6 million policyholders depend on the NFIP as their main source of protection against flooding, the most common natural disaster in the United States. A long-term extension is necessary to provide certainty to recovering housing and financial markets, and to provide stability for policyholders and the insurance industry. Homeowners, small business owners, builders, realtors, mortgage lenders, investors, insurance agents and insurance companies all depend on and support a reauthorized and reformed NFIP.
The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June first, one day after the current expiration date for the NFIP. As our economy struggles to recover, Congress must provide more certainty that flood insurance will be available without putting the taxpayer at risk.
The Senate flood insurance bill requires risk-based premiums, improves the floodplain mapping processes, and reduces severe repetitive loss claims, all of which will put the NFIP on the path to sound financial footing. The bill also includes a long-term reauthorization which removes volatility that has plagued the program for the last four years.
We thank the Senate Banking Committee and these 41 Senators signing this letter for their leadership on this important issue. The country will benefit from NFIP reform finally being completed, and NAMIC will continue to work to get it done.
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