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Jul 18, 2019 8:51 AM
Hi All -
Much continues to happen in the Flood space and we want to make sure everyone is up to speed going into your August recess meetings.
First, both the National Association of insurance Commissioners and National Council of Insurance Legislators have requested feedback on model legislation and guidance to assist states with private flood insurance. NAR submitted this letter transmitting groundbreaking research on state insurance laws: narfocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/3/3418.pdf
Second, FEMA is expected to begin sharing the details of their new NFIP risk rating 2.0 initiative over August. It is not clear at this point how much information they are going to make public, given the "i gotcha" reaction by some members of Congress before any new rates have even been released. However, FEMA has agreed to sit down with NAR's insurance committee work group to discuss the new rates and how to ensure our members and their clients understand and can evaluate how FEMA is attempting to address a number of problems in the current NFIP rating methodology, which is not accurate to say the least.
Third, many of you may be following the growing number of Flood bills that have or will be introduced over the next few weeks in Congress. What's going on is members of Congress see a bill moving in the House and thus a possible opportunity and legislative vehicle to address more of their own issues. As a result, they are introducing "messaging bills" that no one expects to become law; rather, these bills signal the sponsors' interest in holding up the NAR-supported House Financial Services Committee Bill (HR 3167) unless there are opportunities for amendments.
It is unclear at this moment whether these messaging bills will have an impact on the House, which is expected to vote on H.R. 3167 after the August recess; currently, the House is waiting on the Congressional Budget Office score of the bill's cost before deciding whether to bring up the bill under regular order and amendments or expedited procedures on the Suspension-of-Rules Calendar for less controversial bills. The Senate is another story, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
If you have flood insurance specific questions on politics or policy in your state, please reach out to our resident expert, Aistin Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, below is a recent article on one of the messaging bills. Note this quote:
There are a lot of consumer protections built into this, but unfortunately this Senate bill has a lot of what we are calling 'poison pills' that the House would never agree to," Joe Rossi, chairman of the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition, said. "These are nonstarters with the House and with these conflicts, we are in a situation where we have another stalemate with this process."
Bill gives hope for long-term extension on flood insurance program
Proposed federal legislation meant to give hope to coastal homeowners who have lived under looming lapses in the federally funded National Flood Insurance Program for the last two years is expected to face an uphill battle on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Wednesday joined a bipartisan group of senators to unveil new, comprehensive legislation that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program for five years. But the legislation includes a series of sweeping reforms to address the waste, abuse and mismanagement in the system that are in direct competition with a similar bill moving for a vote soon in the U.S. House.
"There are a lot of consumer protections built into this, but unfortunately this Senate bill has a lot of what we are calling 'poison pills' that the House would never agree to," Joe Rossi, chairman of the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition, said. "These are nonstarters with the House and with these conflicts, we are in a situation where we have another stalemate with this process."
More than 5 million American families depend upon the flood insurance program, known as NFIP, including more than 61,000 homeowners in 330 communities in Massachusetts. Since the last legislation granting a five-year extension to the program expired on Sept. 30, 2017, Congress has been unable to agree on legislation that wouldextend the NFIP more than a few weeks or months at a time, which Rossi said creates a lot of uncertainty for homeowners as well as the industry and people trying to buy homes in a flood zone.
The program has lapsed for a total of eight days over the past two years.
"This creates a ton of anxiety and uncertainty for everyone involved," Rossi said. "We need some type of certainty."
Congress must reauthorize the program again before it expires on Sept. 30 to avoid another lapse.
Warren said the Senate bill she is co-sponsoring tackles systemic problems with flood insurance, puts it back on solid fiscal ground, and reframes the nation's entire disaster relief program to one that focuses more on prevention and mitigation to spare the high cost of rebuilding after flood disasters.
"With rising sea levels and heavier rainfalls bearing down on our communities, it's critical that we reform our flood insurance program to reduce financial risk for families and bring people the peace of mind they deserve," Warren said in a statement. "That's why I'm pleased to support this legislation, which would take several steps to improve resiliency, and tackle the waste and mismanagement plaguing our current flood insurance system."
Besides extending the NFIP for five years, the bill would protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at 9 percent, create a voucher program for low- and middle-income homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium causes their housing costs to exceed 30 percent of their adjusted gross income, create a path toward solvency for the financially strapped program and place limits on private insurance company profits.
The bill also aims to invest more in mitigation efforts and better technology for creating more accurate flood maps. It would also impose stricter deadlines for payouts to homeowners affected by flooding, some of whom wait months to years for payouts.
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