House advances bill to create markets for private flood insurance

The House advanced legislation last week that would create private flood insurance markets to provide homeowners with more coverage options than just the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The House voted 264-155 to advance the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL). The legislation clarifies how non-government flood insurance policies can satisfy the federal flood insurance mandate for properties that in high-risk areas. This essentially opens flood insurance up to private insurance providers.

“The recent major flood events across the country have provided a much-needed sense of urgency to our efforts to provide consumers with private sector flood insurance options,” Ross said. “Currently, many homeowners in Florida and across the country face unaffordable flood insurance premiums and a lack of coverage options, largely due to federal regulatory barriers that give the National Flood Insurance Program a harmful monopoly over the marketplace.”

He said this bill would allow more private flood insurers to enter the market, leading to increased competition and more affordable, comprehensive policies.

“As with other forms of insurance, the private sector, in conjunction with state insurance commissioners, can provide the innovation and flexibility that will help homeowners better manage and understand their risk, while also reducing the number of uninsured homes and incentivizing investments in flood mitigation and resiliency efforts,” Ross said. “It would be irresponsible to delay passage of this bipartisan reform any longer. If our Senate colleagues are serious about improving the flood protections available to homeowners and reducing the suffering caused by major floods, then they must act quickly to pass this legislation.”

Currently, all flood insurance is provided through the federal NFIP. The NFIP was set to expire on Sept. 30 but was extended to Dec. 8, 2017, due to the rash of hurricanes that have hammered Florida, Texas, and other areas.

House Republicans are preparing a 5-year reauthorization of the NFIP.