Reps. Castor, Luetkemeyer Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Lower Flood Insurance Costs
Today, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (FL14) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO03) reintroduced H.R. 900, the Continuous Coverage for Flood Insurance Act, which would lower costs by ensuring that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allows consumers to exercise their right to maintain flood insurance outside of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“Families, homeowners, and small business owners across Florida deserve financial stability, peace of mind and less confusion when it comes to flood insurance," said Rep. Castor. "Our bipartisan legislation provides consumers an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program without penalty. Competition can bring lower prices and broaden the insurance pool to help reduce flood insurance rates. Hurricanes and floods bring massive losses, and we must ensure every tool remains at the disposal of our neighbors to protect their livelihoods. I’m glad to work with Representative Luetkemeyer to ease cost burdens on hardworking Americans and increase consumer choice in continuous flood insurance coverage.”
“The benefit of consumer choice in the flood insurance market is the opportunity for Americans to find affordable plans that best fit their needs. A growing private market also removes financial risk from the U.S. taxpayers,” said Congressman Luetkemeyer. “Public policy should encourage private sector participation or at the very least not penalize it. This bill is a commonsense solution to ensure anyone who purchased a private plan is not penalized by the NFIP.”
In 2012, Congress enacted the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act to reform the NFIP. Among other reforms, the Biggert-Waters Act required federal lending institutions to accept certain non-NFIP insurance policies, reinforcing the fact that other non-NFIP insurance policies can be used to satisfy the NFIP’s mandatory purchase requirement. As a result of this law, in February 2019, a final rule was issued regarding the acceptance of non-NFIP insurance which took effect on July 1, 2019.
Many consumers are unable to take advantage of these potentially beneficial and cost-effective non-NFIP insurance policies. Currently, the NFIP requires continuous coverage to be eligible for grandfathered rates, but only counts the time in an NFIP policy. If a policyholder chooses to leave the program and return later, the NFIP will charge the full, non-grandfathered rate – even if the policyholder decides to obtain a non-NFIP insurance policy sanctioned by the new rule. The prospect of higher insurance rates is not only a deterrent to the marketplace but also a barrier to more affordable flood insurance.
“NAR’s 1.5 million members have long advocated for removing barriers to private flood insurance to protect more property owners against flooding, the number one natural disaster in the United States. This bill would help clarify that federal continuous coverage requirements can be met with an NFIP or private policy, enabling consumers to choose the most flood coverage for the least cost. We look forward to working with Congress to advance this bill as part of a broader NFIP reauthorization and reform measure,” said National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell.
“We applaud Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer for again introducing legislation to provide property owners options and stability when it comes to flood insurance. The member firms of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers place 90% of the commercial property and casualty products in the US. So few property owners have flood insurance and we have seen firsthand that no one is immune to the disastrous effects of flooding. We wholeheartedly support any tool designed to increase the amount of flood policies in force. While Congress has made significant strides to energize the growth of the private market, the issue of continuous coverage still exists as an impediment for those seeking coverage choices outside of the National Flood Insurance Program. We thank Congresswoman Castor and Congressman Luetkemeyer for their leadership and dedication to provide consistency and flexibility,” said Ken Crerar, CEO of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
“APCIA strongly supports the Continuous Coverage for Flood Insurance Act that recognizes a private flood insurance policy as a method of meeting the continuous coverage requirement. We are thankful for the leadership of Representatives Castor and Luetkemeyer for their steadfast support to ensure policyholders are able to purchase the flood insurance policy that works best for them, no matter if it is through the NFIP or the private market, without the threat of being unfairly punished if they choose to return to the NFIP,” said Nat Wienecke, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) Senior Vice President of Federal Government Relations.
“WSIA appreciates the leadership of Reps. Luetkemeyer and Castor in their reintroduction of legislation to ensure consumers can access private insurance as well as the National Flood Insurance Program to fit their particular flood risks. Enacting this legislation will promote greater adoption of flood insurance by empowering consumers through more options and ensure they are better prepared for future weather events,” said Keri Kish, General Counsel & Policy Director at Wholesale & Specialty.