Senate Banking Flood Plan Doesn’t Open Market to Private Insurers

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By Brandon Ross

Senate banking committee leaders’ base proposal to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program doesn’t include core provisions from a House proposal that would open the flood insurance market to private sector underwriters.

The plan to reauthorize the program for six years was released late July 17. It is sponsored by Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and ranking member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

The House is set to soon consider a seven-bill package to reauthorize the NFIP for five years. That proposal, approved by the House Financial Services Committee, would remove barriers limiting the private sector from entering the flood insurance market, and would restrict coverage for certain properties that flooded repeatedly or were very expensive. New properties built in areas at risk of flooding would also be forbidden from federal flood coverage.

By contrast, Crapo’s and Brown’s bill, which is unnumbered, seems to include no such provisions for narrowing the pool of qualifying properties for federal coverage.

Crapo’s and Brown’s bill serves as a “base text,” a statement announcing the legislation said.

“We have held multiple hearings and worked on a bipartisan basis to hear thoughts and concerns from the Program’s stakeholders, regulators and from Banking Committee members,” Crapo and Brown said in the joint statement. “This bill represents the many areas where we have found agreement, and we look forward to working with our colleagues to address outstanding issues.”

The NFIP expires Sept. 30.

Mapping and Mitigation

The proposal, like the proposed House package, includes changes aimed at improving the flood maps used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the NFIP, to set flood insurance premiums and determine likely flood areas.

FEMA would be required to use more advanced mapping technology and work with states and private sector partners to improve the maps, under the leaders’ proposal.

The proposal would also authorize up to $200 million for mitigation programs.

The bill aims to have the program administrator direct communities to determine repeat-loss properties—properties where flood claims have been made on multiple occasions—and develop a plan to reduce the community’s exposure to flood damage. The House plan includes similar provisions.

A section-by-section summary is available here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Ross in Washington at bRoss@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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