Extension of flood insurance in works
Congress is taking steps to approve another temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that expires Nov. 30. If approved, this would be the eighth temporary extension since September of 2017.
Costly hurricanes over the last 13 years have left the flood insurance program billions of dollars in debt. Reform is essential in order to try and make the program self-supporting. The insurance covers damage and loss to a building and personal property during floods, which are not covered under homeowner policies.
Jim Donelon, state insurance commissioner, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge in September that flood insurance is cheap and Louisiana has been a major beneficiary of the program. However, he said it remains a struggle to get homeowners and businesses to sign up for flood insurance until there is a flood.
Louisiana’s congressional delegation is on the front lines in support of the temporary extension. Current NFIP policies would remain in effect if the extension isn’t granted, but no new policies could be issued.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said, "While it’s frustrating another short term extension is required, this gives us a good opportunity in the new Congress to buckle down and hammer out a long-term agreement that is good for Louisiana and good for taxpayers."
Reform has been difficult and The Advocate explained why. Politicians from flood-prone states want greater investment in flood defenses, funding to buy out homeowners in risky areas and other initiatives to cut down on future payouts.
Fiscal conservatives oppose subsidies that keep premiums low for high-risk homeowners. They support steep rate hikes on some policyholders currently paying below-market rates.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said, "Most of the senators I’ve talked to are comfortable with the six-month extension. But some will object just because they want to kill the program."
Kennedy said he is extremely frustrated that long-term reforms haven’t been made because the program is necessary for more than five million homes and businesses in the country. The program covers about a half-million homes in Louisiana.
We hope Cassidy is correct when he says the NFIP temporary extension will give Congress time to reform the program. Unfortunately, that is difficult to accomplish in the highly partisan atmosphere in Washington, D.C.