Insurance industry welcomes hundreds of millions of dollars for NFIP in new bill

But WSIA also calls for more reforms

Insurance industry welcomes hundreds of millions of dollars for NFIP in new bill

Environmental

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Insurance industry trade groups have praised provisions in a government-funding bill signed into law over the weekend by President Biden that would fortify localities against natural disasters.

In a flurry of activity late last week and into Saturday to avoid a government shutdown, the House and Senate approved $1.2 trillion appropriations legislation that provides funding for the Departments of Defense, Treasury, Homeland Security, Treasury, State, Labor, Health and Human Services and other agencies and programs.

The 1,012-page measure rolled up six appropriations bills that completed funding to keep the government open through the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 30. Separate legislation approved earlier in the month included the other six spending bills.

The most recent legislation extends the National Flood Insurance Program through the end of the fiscal year and provides $25.3 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including  $20.3 billion for disaster response and recovery.

The FEMA funding includes $175 million for flood mapping and mitigation; $281 million for flood hazard mapping and risk analysis; $319 million in emergency grants; and $231 million for flood insurance operations.

Making ‘communities more resilient’

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association had been lobbying for the inclusion of funding for programs that help local areas predict when natural disasters might occur and mitigate the impact when they strike.

“We’re trying to make communities more resilient because we’re seeing these natural catastrophes becoming frequent and more severe,” David Pearce (pictured above, left), ACPIA vice president for financial regulation and tax policy, said in an interview.

Preventing an NFIP shutdown was a priority for many insurance industry groups.

“No-one wants to see a break in coverage at all,” Pearce said. 

First extend, then reform NFIP

The Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association wants lawmakers to go beyond extending the existing NFIP and make some changes.

“We are pleased to see the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program and we hope Congress will continue to consider necessary NFIP reforms, including mid-term cancelation and continuous coverage provisions,” WSIA executive director Brady Kelley (pictured above, right) said in a statement.   

The APCIA had been lobbying for provisions across several of the spending bills that were rolled into the two larger measures that Congress approved this month to keep the government functioning. Pearce said the group was successful in obtaining 21 of 26 requests it made for spending increases or for language in reports that accompany the funding that direct actions by the agencies receiving the money.

For instance, the appropriations bill earlier this month included programs to enhance auto and pedestrian safety and to address wildfires. Working to prevent accidents – or to reduce the impact of natural disasters – rather than just react to them is the goal, Pearce said.

“If we can do that in a proactive way, that’s good not only for our members but also for policyholders,” Pearce said. 

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