June 23rd, 2017 2:16 PM by Ron Mastrodonato
WASHINGTON – June 22, 2017 – The House Financial Services Committee concluded a markup on multiple pieces of legislation to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) this week.
"Congress has less than four months to reform and reauthorize the critical National Flood Insurance Program," says National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President William E. Brown. NAR "is pleased that Congress is addressing the issue."
As Congress considers changing and extending NFIP, it faces multiple challenges. While the primary task of flood insurance is to cover at-risk U.S. properties and help affected homeowners, the program is deep in debt with little chance of solvency under current rules. The challenge for lawmakers is to maintain protections for homeowners while minimizing or erasing losses from the program as it considers an extension.
According to Brown, "NAR supports six of the seven bills that passed out of committee. We believe they represent opportunities to lower costs for homeowners, protect more at-risk properties and support a broader range of private flood insurance options."
However, Brown says NAR has "strong concerns over elements" of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act. He says that bill "could lead to consumer confusion and market disruptions. It's imperative that Congress work together to avoid a repeat of the challenges that emerged following the Biggert-Waters reauthorization in 2012."
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 attempted to help NFIP's precarious finances by raising the cost of flood insurance to fair actuarial rates. However, many homeowners required to have flood insurance, notably those with a mortgage, received bills many times higher than what they had been paying. The problem was particularly acute in some Florida communities.
"Reauthorization remains our top priority," says Brown. "Our Realtor members know firsthand that this program is critical for the 22,000 communities that depend on it. Homeowners everywhere are counting on us to get this right."
Brown commended Chairmen Hensarling (R-Texas) and Duffy (R-Wis.) and members of the House for their attention to the NFIP issue. "We look forward to working with them to improve the 21st Century Flood Reform Act as it works its way through the legislative process," he says.