NFIP-RE Act Re-Introduced in House and Senate
On June 22 and June 23, the Senate and House introduced the bipartisan and bicameral National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization (NFIP-RE) Act of 2023. The NFIP-RE Act’s full text can be reviewed here and a one-pager is available here.
According to an accompanying press release by its authors, the NFIP-RE Act of 2023 would:
- Protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at nine percent.
- Provide a comprehensive means-tested voucher for millions of low- and middle-income homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium becomes prohibitively expensive.
- Increase the maximum limit for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage to better reflect the costs of rebuilding and implementing mitigation projects.
- Create new oversight measures for insurance companies and vendors, and provides FEMA with greater authority to terminate contractors that have a track record of abuse.
- Reform the claims process based on lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy and other disasters, to level the playing field for policy holders during appeal or litigation, hold FEMA accountable to strict deadlines so that homeowners get quick and fair payments, and ban aggressive legal tactics preventing homeowners from filing legitimate claims.
CSFI’s longstanding policy priorities – including but not limited to a NFIP premium calculator, an appeals process, a 9% annual increase cap, a means-tested affordability program, NFIP debt forbearance, increased cost of compliance modernization, proper consideration for mitigation measures, and increased funding for mitigation programs – would all be accomplished through the bill’s enactment.
On the Senate side, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced the bill. They are joined by original cosponsors Senators John Kennedy (R-LA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). U.S. Representatives Clay Higgins (R-LA-03) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06) have introduced the bill in the House.
Members have released respective statements on the bill, expressing their support:
Senator Cassidy: “Reforming the NFIP means making it affordable again. We need to ensure families are not priced out of the program.”
Senator Menendez: “Congress can no longer afford to punt long-term reauthorization and reform of the NFIP. It’s time to put policyholders first and addresses the longstanding systemic issues with the program that came under the national spotlight in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With disastrous flooding events becoming all the more common, we must work to create a more sustainable, resilient, and affordable flood insurance program that invests in prevention and mitigation efforts, and all while ensure hard-working Americans can have peace of mind in the event of a disaster.”
Representative Higgins: “Flood insurance for home and business owners in South Louisiana and across the country is a necessity that has become increasingly unaffordable for hardworking Americans. Millions of homeowners rely on NFIP as the only real option for flood insurance. Reauthorization of NFIP is a necessity, and forcing Congress to address the serious problems of Risk Rating 2.0 is a priority. My office remains focused on passing a long-term reauthorization that protects affordability, improves flood plain mapping, and prioritizes pre-disaster mitigation.”
Representative Pallone: “New Jerseyans still know all too well how important a flood insurance program is. After Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Ida devastated New Jersey communities, insurance companies have outright refused to make good on their promises to policyholders and used the fine print to deny families who lost everything. For years, I’ve been warning that Risk Rating 2.0 could be used to unfairly target coastal communities while making flood insurance unaffordable for working families, and that’s exactly what I’m hearing from my constituents. FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 is lowering costs for some, but it’s causing thousands of households to drop coverage all together due to rate shocks. The National Flood Insurance Program must be affordable and fair – otherwise it just doesn’t work. This bill will strengthen the program so that homeowners in my district are protected from the devastating effects of flooding.”
Senator Kennedy: “By making flood insurance unaffordable, the Biden administration’s Risk Rating 2.0 is making it impossible for Louisianians to protect their biggest assets—their homes. We must make sure that the NFIP works for the people who depend on it, and this bill would do that.”
Senator Booker: “It is critical our nation’s flood insurance program is stable and affordable so that our communities and policyholders can protect their homes and businesses and get the help they need when disaster strikes. This legislation takes important steps to reduce risk, invest in pre-disaster mitigation efforts, and support those in need. We must protect Americans from the devastating impacts of flooding.”
Senator Hyde-Smith: “The rollout of Risk Rating 2.0 has only served to compound the fundamental problems within the National Flood Insurance Program, which isn’t doing anyone any favors especially those who need flood insurance most. There’s no point in having flood insurance if nobody can afford it. The comprehensive reforms in this legislation deserve to be enacted so we can begin to fix the disfunction of the existing NFIP program. Taxpayers and policyholders deserve nothing less.”
Senator Gillibrand: “Helping our communities prepare for and recover from the devastation caused by flooding should be one of our highest priorities, especially as so many states continue to be hit with extreme weather. The National Flood Insurance Program protects households in New York and across the country from the losses that follow major flooding, but for too many, flood insurance is becoming unaffordable. The NFIP-RE Act of 2023 will ensure that flood insurance programs are affordable, transparent, and accountable for New Yorkers and others across the country.”
Senator Van Hollen: “Like the rest of the country, communities across Maryland are feeling the impacts of flooding caused by more frequent and extreme weather events. That’s why we need to reform this program – to ensure families and businesses across the state have access to affordable coverage and our flood maps are up-to-date.”
Senator Wicker: “The National Flood Insurance Program is a lifeline for many Mississippi communities at risk of flooding, and it is important for the program to be renewed. This legislation will reauthorize the program while incorporating much-needed reforms to help address the skyrocketing costs of premiums and make the program work better for policyholders and the taxpayer.”
Senator Rubio: “Flood insurance is a necessity in Florida, and getting the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on track to fiscal sustainability is critical to ensuring millions of policyholders maintain coverage. This legislation would provide a five-year reauthorization and create stability for millions of policyholders across the state and nationwide.”