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Rubio, Menendez, Colleagues Lead Bipartisan Flood Insurance Reform Bill
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Kennedy (R-LA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for six years while instituting a series of sweeping reforms to address the waste, abuse and mismanagement plaguing the system.
The legislation tackles systemic problems with flood insurance, puts it back on solid fiscal ground, and reframes the nation’s entire disaster paradigm to one that focuses more on prevention and mitigation to spare the high cost of rebuilding after flood disasters. Congress must reauthorize the NFIP, which expires on Sept. 30, 2017.
“The National Flood Insurance Program is vitally important to my home state of Florida, which is a major contributor to the system,” said Rubio. “This bill helps ensure long-term stability, while providing much needed reforms to protect the program’s policyholders. It is past time for the federal government to take a more proactive approach in addressing the underlying risk affecting flood prone communities. I am proud to have worked with this bipartisan group to make our National Flood Insurance Program more viable, sustainable and accountable.”
“Americans deserve a National Flood Insurance Program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” said Menendez. “If we want a more sustainable system, the answer isn’t to slam homeowners with even higher premiums. This legislation puts the lessons we learned after Superstorm Sandy into action, levels the playing field for policyholders, and attacks the NFIP’s rampant waste and abuse to create real savings and greater investment in mitigation and resiliency efforts to make our residents and communities safer.”
“More than five million Americans depend on this vital program to protect their homes and businesses. This is an essential program, not just for Louisiana, but for the entire U.S,” said Kennedy. “We have to ensure that families and businesses in flood-prone areas are protected. This bill will reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program while making common sense reforms to maintain its solvency.”
“From Ellicott City to the Eastern Shore, flooding impacts communities across Maryland,” said Van Hollen. “We need to reform the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure that families and businesses have the affordable coverage they need, our flood maps are based on the most update-to-date science, and the NFIP program has long-term stability for communities across the country.”
“It’s time to come together to pass a long-term, bipartisan NFIP reauthorization that makes much-needed reforms to the flood insurance program,” said Warren. “Our bill will make changes that extend affordable flood insurance protection to everyone who needs it and that places more emphasis on better flood mapping, prevention, and resiliency.”
“Policyholders in Mississippi and around the country know the National Flood Insurance Program needs to be reformed. This legislation is a solid starting point to make the program more affordable and accountable. We want to return emphasis on flood control infrastructure, and fully recognize the physical and financial protections gained from these cost-shared investments,” said Cochran. “I look forward to working to pass bipartisan reforms that offer better flood protection and more effective coverage for homeowners, businesses, and communities.”
The Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act would also:
- Reauthorize the NFIP for six years, providing certainty for communities.
- End runaway premium hikes by capping annual increases to 10 percent. Currently, premiums increase by up to 25 percent every year, depressing property values, creating affordability challenges, and discouraging participation in the program.
- Freeze interest payments and establishes new controls for private insurance company compensation in order to reinvest in proactive mitigation efforts and affordability measures, including low-interest loans for homeowners’ mitigation projects and affordability vouchers.
- Provide robust funding levels for large-scale, communitywide mitigation efforts, and mitigation assistance programs, which have a 4:1 return on investment and are the most effective way to reduce flood risk.
- Increase the maximum limit for ICC coverage to better reflect the costs of mitigation projects and expands eligibility in order to encourage more proactive mitigation before natural disasters strike.
- Authorize funding for Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology for more accurate mapping of flood risk across the country, reducing confusion and generating better data.
- Cap compensation for WYO companies to 22.4 percent of written premiums, creates new oversight measures for insurance companies and vendors, and provides FEMA with greater authority to terminate contractors that have a track record of abuse.
- Reform the claims process based on lessons learned after Superstorm Sandy and other disasters, leveling the playing field for policyholders during appeals and litigation by holding FEMA to strict deadlines for payments to homeowners, banning aggressive legal tactics that prevent homeowners from filing legitimate claims and ending FEMA’s reliance on outside legal counsel from expensive for-profit entities.
- Provide for increased training and certification of agents and adjusters to reduce mistakes and improve the customer experience.