U.S. House Expands Flood Insurance Options
Florida Accounts for 40% of Federal Flood Insurance Policies
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today supported bipartisan legislation to significantly broaden the availability of private flood insurance. The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (H.R. 2901) will end the federal government’s near monopoly over flood insurance and ensure that private insurance is a viable option for homeowners in Florida and across the country. The legislation passed the U.S. House in a unanimous, bipartisan vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Specifically, this bill amends the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 by clarifying that mortgage lenders are allowed to accept non-governmental, private insurance options as a means of satisfying a federal mandate requiring coverage for high-risk homes and properties. Allowing private insurers to enter the government-dominated flood insurance market will help drive down costs and better meet the specific needs of consumers.
Currently, the federal government’s flood insurance program, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), is $23 billion in debt and has severe limitations as to what it can cover, leaving consumers few options to properly protect their homes and businesses from flood losses. For example, the NFIP only covers up to $250,000 for an individual’s home and fails to cover loss of most vehicles as well as financial losses caused by interruptions to a business.
There are approximately 1.8 million NFIP policyholders in Florida alone – accounting for nearly 40 percent of insurance policies nationwide.
“Floridians need access to affordable flood insurance so they can protect their families, homes and businesses – and recover quickly after the next disaster strikes,” Buchanan said. “This legislation allows hardworking Americans to choose flood insurance plans designed to meet their specific needs rather than government mandates.”
The Sunshine State is second only to California for overall risk of natural disasters, with 6.7 million homes listed in the “high or very high” risk categories, according to RealtyTrac, a housing data company. It also leads the country with the most homes at risk for hurricanes.
Buchanan also noted that with an average elevation of just 100 feet above sea level, Florida is particularly prone to flooding. Even a few inches of precipitation can cause flooding in certain areas across the state and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
“Consumers should have no shortage of options when it comes to planning for and safeguarding their homes, cars or businesses before a disaster strikes. It is imperative the Senate takes action on this bill immediately,” Buchanan said.
This legislation is endorsed by the National Association of Realtors, the American Bankers Association, the National Taxpayers Union and Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
Buchanan is the co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, which served as a major driving force to address skyrocketing increases in flood insurance premiums last Congress. Buchanan was also an original co-sponsor of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3370), which was signed into law by President Obama and provided immediate relief and long-term certainty for hundreds of thousands of policyholders across the country, including thousands of individuals in our own backyard of Sarasota and Manatee county.