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Florida Needs Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act

March 15, 2016 - 2:30pm

Our‭ ‬state of Florida is no stranger to catastrophic storms and devastating hurricanes.‭ ‬With‭ ‬98‭ ‬percent of Florida communities participating in the federal National Flood Insurance Program‭ (‬NFIP‭)‬,‭ ‬homeowners and business owners know firsthand the importance of purchasing flood insurance to protect their families and businesses from disaster.

In‭ ‬2014‭ ‬alone,‭ ‬and to no surprise,‭ ‬Florida surpassed all other states in total number of insurance claims and total claim payments for flooding.‭ ‬Furthermore,‭ ‬out of the top‭ ‬10‭ ‬claiming states,‭ ‬Florida‭’‬s total number of claims was more than three times higher‭ ‬than‭ ‬the average,‭ ‬and its total claim payments were more than four times the average.

However,‭ ‬we are‭ ‬not alone‭ ‬in our risk exposure to floods.‭ ‬Every property faces some type of flood risk.‭  ‬In fact,‭ ‬in the past five years,‭ ‬all‭ ‬50‭ ‬states have experienced floods or flash‭ ‬floods.‭ ‬To insure against these serious risks,‭ ‬property owners have‭ ‬one choice:‭ ‬the‭ ‬NFIP.‭ ‬While‭ ‬the‭ ‬NFIP has served a critical role,‭ ‬providing an option in a market that was without one,‭ ‬recent reforms have left Floridians looking for other options.‭ ‬Choice and competition in a robust and appropriately regulated marketplace will drive down costs and better meet the needs of consumers.

This is not a partisan issue.‭ ‬It is a practical matter.‭ 

Because federal flood insurance is the main game in town when it comes to determining rates and providing insurance,‭ ‬consumers are left with‭ ‬very‭ ‬few options to insure against flood losses to their homes or businesses.‭ ‬For‭ ‬instance,‭ ‬an NFIP policy only covers up to‭ ‬$250,000‭ ‬of damages related to a residential home.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬NFIP policies do not cover homeowners‭’‬ living expenses,‭ ‬such as temporary housing,‭ ‬if they are displaced by a flood.‭ ‬In the case of a business,‭ ‬NFIP policies do not provide coverage for‭ ‬financial losses suffered as a result of a flood.‭ 

While the NFIP is limited in what its policies can cover,‭ ‬the private sector is not.‭ 

The private sector is also in a better position to provide stronger incentives for property owners to invest in mitigation and resiliency.‭ ‬Ultimately,‭ ‬this increased emphasis on mitigation will benefit homeowners,‭ ‬business owners and taxpayers alike.‭ 

Floridians and all Americans across the country would greatly benefit from more choices when it comes to flood insurance policies.‭ ‬Private competition in this market will lead to greater innovation and more affordable and comprehensive policies for consumers.‭ 

Expanding options and driving down‭ ‬costs of flood insurance for homeowners and business owners have been some of our top priorities since we were elected to represent the Sunshine State in our nation‭’‬s capital.‭ 

When we learned that‭ ‬unnecessary regulations were preventing the development of a private flood insurance‭ ‬marketplace,‭ ‬we teamed‭ ‬across the aisle to solve this problem,‭ ‬introducing‭ ‬H.R.‭ ‬2901,‭ ‬the‭ ‬Flood Insurance Market Parity‭ ‬and Modernization Act.‭ ‬This bipartisan legislation will remove the barriers that are hindering consumers‭’‬ flood insurance options.

This‭ ‬legislation is a win-win for Florida families,‭ ‬giving them more options for flood insurance coverage and using new competition to drive down the prices of plans.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬it‭ ‬preserves‭ ‬protections for property owners who choose to‭ ‬leave the‭ ‬NFIP‭ ‬for the private market and wish to return.‭ 

For example,‭ ‬under the current rules,‭ ‬if a policyholder were to leave the federal program for any reason,‭ ‬including leaving to try the private market,‭ ‬that policyholder would lose any subsidy status‭ ‬they previously held with the NFIP should the policyholder choose to ever return to the NFIP.‭ ‬The policyholder must maintain‭ “‬continuous coverage‭”‬ with the NFIP in order to maintain grandfather status.‭ ‬Our bipartisan legislation would change these rules to allow private flood insurance policies approved by a state regulator to count as‭ “‬continuous coverage‭”‬ by the NFIP.

Ultimately,‭ ‬the consumer‭ ‬benefits from increased competition and options in this market and,‭ ‬with Florida property owners in mind,‭ ‬we have been proud to work together in a bipartisan manner to move this important legislation through the House Financial Services Committee with an overwhelming vote of‭ ‬53-0.‭ 

Moving forward,‭ ‬we will continue to press‭ ‬for this legislation to be enacted into law so‭ ‬Floridians and all Americans‭ ‬are empowered with more choices and affordability in the flood insurance market.‭ 


‭U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., is part of the congressional leadership as House deputy majority whip. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is running for the U.S. Senate. 

Comments

Oh, will these "do nothing" Congress people EVER stop "showing up" with phony "legislative Media bait" (to get their names "in print") just before a new election cycle?!?!? "FLUSH OUT THE TOILET" that Congress has become folks: (A couple cycles of "Voter toilet cleaner" will make all of our lives better: as well as to remind these obfuscating pettifoggers just who "We The People" are...)

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