The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies today hailed passage of historic reforms that represent a foundational shift in federal disaster policy.
Key provisions in a government funding and disaster relief appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by the president will establish a new incentive for states to strengthen their building codes and disaster preparedness.
“As we rightly provide critical aid for the natural disaster victims from California to Puerto Rico, it’s important to recognize that the legislation passed today also looks out for the victims of the next storm, fire, tornado, or earthquake,” said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of government affairs for NAMIC. “Building strong before the storm makes it less likely that you’ll have to rebuild after, and for the first time ever we have a real incentive in place designed to reverse the cycle of destruction that for so long has left homes and lives vulnerable to disasters.”
Under the incentive, the president could increase the federal share of disaster recovery from the current 75 percent to as much as 85 percent based on a state’s:
Adoption and enforcement of the latest building codes;
Adoption of a mitigation plan;
Investments in disaster relief, insurance, and emergency management programs;
Participation in the Community Rating System; and
Funding of mitigation projects or use of tax incentives to projects that reduce risk.
“We know that another disaster will happen, even if we don’t know where or when,” Grande said. “By encouraging more resilient construction standards and increased mitigation in states across the nation, this legislation will literally save lives. Further, studies have shown that every dollar spent on mitigation can return six to eight times as much in savings, reducing the burden on the nation’s taxpayers.”
As part of the reforms, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be tasked with determining how to factor in different mitigation investments and establish guidance for states to qualify for the higher costs share within one year of the bill becoming law.
“States are going to have a clear, measurable roadmap they can follow to qualify for the greater federal cost share, in addition to better protecting their communities,” Grande said. “Just signed this morning by the president, this new law represents an enormous step toward a smarter, forward-looking disaster policy that will better protect Americans and reduce the need for disaster aid. We applaud Congress and the leadership of Speaker Ryan, Chairman Shuster, and Chairman Barletta for their steadfast commitment to see these life-saving reforms advance to the president’s desk.”