WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., joined with colleagues to reintroduce the bipartisan and bicameral National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization (NFIP-RE) Act of 2023.
The NFIP-RE Act would tackle systemic problems with flood insurance, put the program back on solid fiscal ground, and reframe the nation’s entire disaster paradigm to one focused more on prevention and mitigation to prevent the high cost of rebuilding after flood disasters.
“The National Flood Insurance Program is a lifeline for many Mississippi communities at risk of flooding, and it is important for the program to be renewed,” Wicker said. “This legislation will reauthorize the program while incorporating much-needed reforms to help address the skyrocketing costs of premiums and make the program work better for policyholders and the taxpayer.”
“The rollout of Risk Rating 2.0 has only served to compound the fundamental problems within the National Flood Insurance Program, which isn’t doing anyone any favors especially those who need flood insurance most. There’s no point in having flood insurance if nobody can afford it,” Hyde-Smith said. “The comprehensive reforms in this legislation deserve to be enacted so we can begin to fix the dysfunction of the existing NFIP program. Taxpayers and policyholders deserve nothing less.”
Over the last year, the NFIP has lost 100,000 policyholders, and according to the Associated Press, the program is estimated to lose hundreds of thousands more policyholders over the coming years due to FEMA's new rating methodology Risk Rating 2.0, at a time when flood risk is only expected to grow.
The NFIP-RE Act of 2023 would:
- Protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at nine percent.
- Provide a comprehensive means-tested voucher for millions of low- and middle-income homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium becomes prohibitively expensive.
- Increase the maximum limit for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage to better reflect the costs of rebuilding and implementing mitigation projects.
- Create new oversight measures for insurance companies and vendors, and provide FEMA with greater authority to terminate contractors that have a track record of abuse.
- Reform the claims process based on lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy and other disasters, to level the playing field for policy holders during appeal or litigation, hold FEMA accountable to strict deadlines so that homeowners get quick and fair payments, and ban aggressive legal tactics preventing homeowners from filing legitimate claims.
The reauthorization measure was reintroduced by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Bill Cassidy, M.D., R-La., and a House companion bill has been introduced by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, D-N.J. The National Association of Counties and American Policyholder Association support the bill.
A one-page summary of the bill is available here.