07 Jul Senator John Kennedy Plans To Reauthorize The NFIP
Hurricane season has only just begun, but many political leaders are already looking to the future in how to protect citizens from potential flooding. However, since hurricanes and flooding affect plenty of people outside of Louisiana, there is a renewed interest in national protection. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy is hoping to ease that pressure by reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program for the next six years.
The National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, was originally a portion of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reduce the impact of flooding across the nation. From the NFIP, property owners can receive affordable insurance to help promote flood management regulations. Recently, however, recent actions of the program have caused systemic problems that eventually led to $25 billion in debt. Although these are still potential issues contained within the latest bill, Kennedy remains optimistic in that his new efforts can produce a program that everyone can appreciate.
The new bill, titled the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair and Efficient (SAFE) NFIP Act of 2017, is a bipartisan effort with New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez to enforce homeowner-friendly policies. Among these policies include forcing insurance companies to pay legal costs for policyholders who win appeals court cases and ending insurance company policies in denying claims attributed to sinking or shifting ground damage under a flooded house. The bill also provides new ways for policyholders to earn more insurance money such as bumping up the Increased Cost of Compliance, or ICC, funding that policyholders can collect to help elevate their homes and raising the standard residential policy coverage limits.
Despite these new guidelines, some figures have been a little pessimistic regarding the program. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has stated “It will benefit our state by making flood insurance more affordable. But, frankly, I think this is more of a promotional, media tour.” Considering some doubts, Kennedy notes that the new bill will also freeze interest payments over the next six years to help pay off the debt despite the additional spending of the program.
Most importantly, Kennedy believes his bill can be a new opportunity for bipartisanship, recognizing the support he is gaining from different sides. George Kasimos is a victim of Hurricane Sandy flooding in New Jersey and founder of the advocacy group Stop FEMA Now. He notes: “you’re talking about somebody from Senator (Marco) Rubio from Florida, who’s a conservative Republican, to Elizabeth Warren (of Massachusetts), the most liberal Democrat; they’re in this. When was the last time those two voted on the same bill?” With the most unlikely support, the National Flood Insurance Program may have a chance to protect homeowners once again.