CSG co-hosts Capitol Hill briefing on National Flood Insurance Program

On Wednesday, September 6, The Council of State Governments co-hosted a briefing entitled “The Future of the National Flood Insurance Program: Helping Communities Prepare and Respond” on Capitol Hill, along with the National Association of Counties, the National Governor’s Association, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), initially created in 1968, provides homeowners and small business owners with federally guaranteed flood insurance. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have put a renewed focus on the NFIP, which will expire on September 30 without Congressional action, and this briefing served to educate lawmakers and staff on the importance of improving the financial solvency of the program, increasing affordability, and avoiding the uncertainty that comes with program lapses or short-term reauthorizations.

“This is an issue that impacts everyone, whether they have a home in the flood zone or not,” said George Hartwick, National Association of Counties representative and Commissioner of Dauphin County Pennsylvania. “The potential devaluation of properties through rate hikes would also be catastrophic to the local governments and school districts that rely on these property taxes to fund critical government services.”

Competing proposals to reauthorize the program have been making their way through Congress.  Disagreements over how to improve the program’s finances without causing a spike in premiums had already complicated the debate before the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey further entrenched the divide.

With a rapidly dwindling number of days on the legislative calendar, insiders expect to see a short-term reauthorization of the NFIP, allowing more time to reach a consensus on reforms and a more accurate sense of how much the latest storms will cost the NFIP in insurance payouts.