Reps. Royce, Blumenauer introduce bill to reform insurance for repeatedly flooded properties

U.S. Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced legislation last week that seeks to limit the financial resources expended by National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on properties that have been flooded multiple times.

The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act (H.R. 1558) said claims on properties that have been flooded multiple times places a significant drain on the NFIP, which is already in debt.

“A tiny number of properties that are flooded and rebuilt over-and-over again are responsible for a massive chunk of the indebted NFIP’s spending,” Royce said. “Any serious effort by Congress to reform the program and make it less of a drain on taxpayers needs to address repeatedly flooded properties and reward local communities making progress on mitigation. I look forward to continuing my work with chairmen Hensarling and Duffy to see the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act included in this year’s NFIP reauthorization and enacted into law.”

As of January 2016, there were more than 150,000 structures around the country classified as “Repetitive Loss Properties” (RLPs) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These properties make up just one percent of those insured by the NFIP, but represent 25 to 30 percent of all flood claims.

The NFIP is more than $23 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury Department and, according to a 2009 report by FEMA’s inspector general, the number of RLPs increases by nearly 5,000 each year. From 1978 through 2011, RLP losses added up to more than $12 billion—about half of the NFIP’s debt.

“We have a unique and timely opportunity for real reform with the NFIP reauthorization this year,” Blumenauer said. “Repetitive flood loss is a weak point in the system—burdening taxpayers, homeowners, and families. Allowing these proprieties to continue to flood is dangerous and irresponsible, yet existing policy continues to encourage it. This legislation will help communities across the country address repeated flood loss and is a critical step to stabilize the troubled flood insurance program.”

The bill requires communities with a significant number of RLP to map repeatedly flooded properties and public infrastructure to determine the specific areas that should be priorities for voluntary buyouts, drainage improvements, or other mitigation efforts.

Communities should also develop and implement plans for mitigating flood risk in these problem areas and submit them to FEMA.