Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life

Levee director calls for protecting policyholders without flood loss

By:  Meredith Burns, HoumaToday.com

May 1, 2015

http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20150501/ARTICLES/150509937/0/search

Read full testimony here.

 

NEW ORLEANS — National Flood Insurance Program policyholders who have not suffered severe repetitive loss should be able to purchase flood insurance at roughly the same cost as before new legislation, the North Lafourche Levee District director said during a Senate committee hearing Friday.

“First and foremost, all new changes to the NFIP should be made going forward,” Dwayne Bourgeois told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. “We can’t punish people who have followed FEMA’s rules for participation in the NFIP.”

Bourgeois also pointed to a lack of mandatory participation in the program, which drives up the costs for those who do have insurance, and operating costs of the federal program.

The program that is up for reauthorization in 2017 collected more than $9.67 billion in premiums than it paid in claims from 1978 to 2013, which suggests administrative costs could be cut before policyholders pay higher rates to make up for a $25 billion program debt, he said.

The flood insurance program for home and business owners faced major changes in 2012 when an attempt at improving its financial solvency through reforms under the Biggert-Waters Act left many coastal property owners facing significantly higher insurance costs. Various provisions were later repealed.

Vitter said he is now focused on a recent Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and its possible effects on flood insurance and other federal programs.

The standard outlined in an executive order from President Barack Obama in January broadens the floodplain and establishes stricter building standards for projects receiving federal money in a flood plain.

At Friday’s meeting, Roy Wright, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s deputy associate administrator for mitigation, said the policy is not expected to affect flood insurance, which could be clarified in the guidelines.

“We have the ability to ensure that implementing guidelines match what people’s expectations are,” he said. “So, to this point, it will not change the national flood insurance program in terms of how we map today, the rates that are set, the ability for people to have claims. It will not do that. We don’t see that the executive order directs us to do so.”