Flood Insurance Reform Gains Steam in Congress

Flood insurance reform is gaining steam in Congress, which is good news for taxpayers. The House Financial Services Committee recently approved the bipartisan Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 1309). This bill extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years and protects people, property, and environmentally sensitive areas by removing subsidies and using risk-based premiums to discourage over-development of floodplains.

According to Joshua Saks, senior legislative representative for Water Resources at the National Wildlife Federation:

via Flickr, Natalie Maynor

“For too long, Congress has hit the snooze button on the National Flood Insurance Program. The ongoing Mississippi flooding once again underscores the urgency to protect people and the environment through better floodplain management. These recent flooding events make tragically clear the wake-up call needed to truly reform the nation’s flood insurance program.

This is a strong first step toward reforming a program that encourages irresponsible floodplain development at taxpayers’ expense. We are pleased that the bill reported out of committee fixes some of the most egregious subsidy issues and will put us on a path toward more responsible floodplain management. However, there is still much more to be done before this bill becomes law, including helping communities protect floodplains through mitigation and the protection of natural features.”

H.R. 1309 also calls for improved risk mapping standards to make it easier for communities to identify flood-prone areas. It also encourages greater involvement of private insurance companies, which will lessen the amount of money the federal government will have to spend and borrow to cover flooding liabilities. The bill also gives Federal Emergency Management Agency the authority to demolish and rebuild properties damaged by flooding.

The Flood Insurance Reform Act goes to the full House for a vote. If passed, it will save taxpayers money and provide greater security and peace of mind for communities working to mitigate flooding.

Published: May 15, 2011