The U.S. House of Representatives passed four bills on Tuesday offered by House Financial Services Committee Members, including H.R. 2578, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019.
The piece of legislation was introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC). The bill extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) authorization to Sept. 30.
Authorization was due to expire on May 31.
“The NFIP plays an important role in disaster preparedness and resiliency by providing flood maps, setting standards for floodplain management, and investing in mitigation for our homes, businesses, and infrastructure. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, everyone is at risk of flooding,” Waters said of the bill. “That means that this is not just a coastal issue—we all have an interest in ensuring a strong National Flood Insurance Program.
Waters added a “long-term re-authorization” was needed to provide certainty to homeowners and businesses. She also said more needs to be done to address unaffordable premium costs for low-income households, the program’s debt and lower costs of fees on policyholders.
“Secondly, we need to invest more heavily in mapping, floodplain management, and mitigation, which will save taxpayer dollars in the long run by helping to reduce the damage that occurs when floods hit,” Waters said.
She added that work must be done to ensure there are safeguards in place for “greater accountability and oversight,” as Hurricane Sandy exposed issues in claims processing and fraud.
The issue of flood insurance was raised by a ValuePenguin.com report earlier this month, which found just 7% of homeowners have a flood insurance policy, despite floods being the most common natural disaster.
The ValuePenguin report stated that 44% of homeowners in Louisiana have flood insurance, which is the highest in the nation. Louisiana was followed by Florida ( 36%), Hawaii (23%), South Carolina (16%) and New Jersey (11%).Minnesota and Utah have the lowest rate of flood insurance at 0.6%. Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are the most expensive states to purchase flood insurance, with premiums 69-100% more than the national average.
The average cost of a flood insurance policy through the NFIP is $699 a year.