In approving legislation to undo much-needed reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program adopted less than two years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives has overreacted to a problem facing less than one-tenth of one percent of American homeowners, according to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
“Resolving those few cases where rate increases far exceeded what was anticipated by the 2012 reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program quickly became a choice on Capitol Hill between good policy and good politics, and unfortunately, but not surprising in an election year, politics won the day,” said Charles Chamness, president and CEO of NAMIC. “With today’s vote, the House joins the Senate in stepping away from much-needed reforms that would make the NFIP sustainable for future generations, and instead chose to provide cheap flood insurance coverage to small minority of properties at the expense of everyone else.”
The Biggert-Waters Act in 2012 passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. By moving flood insurance rates toward levels that reflect the actual risk of flooding facing a property, the reform law would help make the government program sustainable for future generations.
Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal affairs at NAMIC, said the repeal of the reforms could actually make future flood claims more likely, and losses more severe. “Those with subsidized rates lose any incentive to protect themselves from flood damage,” he said, “and in the meantime until the program’s reserves reach adequate levels, the taxpayer will still be on the hook to make sure the NFIP can pay claims after major storms.”
Grande also said that the legislation would severely impede efforts to lure private-sector companies into the marketplace for flood insurance.
“Unlike the government, a private insurance company has to charge adequate rates to stay in business,” he said. “No insurance company can compete with the low rates being offered by Congress, or ask their other policyholders to make up the loss. With today’s vote, the House continues to make the name ‘National Flood Insurance Program’ into a misnomer.”
NAMIC is the largest property/casualty insurance trade association in the country, serving regional and local mutual insurance companies on main streets across America as well as many of the country’s largest national insurers. Our 1,400 member companies serve more than 135 million auto, home and business policyholders, and write more than $196 billion in annual premiums.
Director, Federal Public Affairs