On Wednesday, Chris Heidrick, chair of the Big “I” Flood Insurance Task Force, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on reauthorization of the NFIP. The hearing comes after the committee released discussion drafts of legislation related to the NFIP late last week.
The Big “I” was the only insurance trade association to testify at the hearing. Heidrick’s testimony focused on three points:
- The importance of reauthorizing the NFIP on a long-term basis before the program expires on May 31.
- The importance of increasing take-up rates for flood insurance—whether through the NFIP or the private market—because an insured survivor recovers more fully regardless of where they obtain coverage.
- The importance of modernizing and simplifying the NFIP to make the program more transparent and easier to understand for consumers and agents.
Heidrick also fielded several questions from members of Congress. The questions covered a variety of topics, but two themes that emerged were ensuring that flood insurance is affordable for low-income property owners and helping expand the private market. Both steps are necessary to increase flood insurance take-up rates. The hearing also covered issues related to mapping, claims and ensuring people understand their flood risk.
The hearing included not only a panel of experts from insurance, floodplain management, environmental groups, think tanks and real estate, but also a panel of members of Congress from districts heavily impacted by flooding. These members urged the committee to reform the program and remember that flooding occurs in all 50 states and impacts every congressional district. In 2018, the NFIP paid out claims in every state except Alaska.
The Big “I” supports a long-term reauthorization of a modernized and transparent NFIP that would increase take-up rates for flood insurance in both the NFIP and private market. Reforming the NFIP will be a top issue at the upcoming Big “I” Legislative Conference, to take place May 8-10 in Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Webb is Big “I” federal government affairs counsel.