National Flood Insurance Program
Flooding in Key West during Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
What is the National Flood Insurance Program?
The National Flood Insurance Program provides affordable flood insurance. Congress must reauthorize the federal program every 5 years. Each reauthorization presents an opportunity for Congress to make changes (“reforms”) to the program, or even decide whether to continue the program. The current reauthorization expired on Sept. 30, 2017. Congress has extended this expiration date several times, with the most recent extension expiring on Dec. 21, 2018.
Monroe County has made reauthorization of NFIP in a manner that protects the program’s affordability and accessibility to property owners a top federal legislative priority.
Why is the National Flood Insurance Program Important?
As a coastal community, Monroe County is highly reliant upon the continuation of the NFIP program and its affordability. Unaffordable flood insurance hurts our property owners, property values, local tax revenue and economic activity.
The State of Florida is the most impacted by changes to NFIP, with 1.7 million of the program's 5 million policies. Monroe County has 30,268 policyholders, with more than $7 billion in insured value.
Coastal communities generate 80 percent of the State of Florida's gross domestic product (GDP) and 46 percent of the entire national GDP. NFIP also is important to protect the economic engines that coastal communities represent to Florida and the country.
Monroe County supports NFIP reauthorization with the following reforms
- Maintain focus on affordability; provide a more reasonable glide path for all properties
- Ensure rates are consistent for all properties, including second homes and businesses
- Ensure NFIP rates are not excessive or unfair by making the rate-setting process more transparent
- Reduce commissions for Write-Your-Owns, while further incentivizing NFIP policy sales efforts
- Encourage greater participation by those outside of the 100-year floodplain via expanded use of the Preferred Risk Policy
- Strengthen enforcement responsibilities to ensure those in the 100-year floodplain have and maintain flood insurance
- Privatization that maintains affordability and requires a whole profile of risk (no cherry-picking)
- Increase funding for existing flood mitigation programs
- Establish tax credits for mitigation efforts
- Consider voucher/loan programs to further emphasize mitigation, particularly for lower-income participants
- Support prohibition of the issuance of flood insurance for new development on properties in the Florida Keys that contain known or suitable habitat for federally-listed endangered species
With regard to the current proposed legislation
Monroe County opposes the 21st Century Flood Reform Act and any other legislation that would be detrimental to policyholders and local governments because it:
- Increases costs for policyholders; maintains steep 15%-25% annual premium increases, raises minimum premium annual increases, and increases annual surcharges.
- Creates an unfunded mandate by increasing regulatory burdens and costs for local governments with repetitive loss properties.
- Encourages privatization without addressing consumer protections.
- Results in fewer NFIP participants undermining the integrity of the program (eliminates mandatory coverage, disallows high-value homes.)
Monroe County supports the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient National Flood Insurance Program (SAFE NFIP) Act because it:
- Limits premium rate increases to 10% annually.
- Caps administrative costs paid to WYO private insurance companies.
- Expands the Increased Cost of Compliance.
- Authorizes $1 billion in new mitigation funding.
The last reauthorization of NFIP, in 2012, gave us the infamous “Biggert-Waters” reforms (BW), which raised premiums significantly and phased out coverage for many. We saw specific examples of premiums increasing 10x under the Biggert Water reforms.
Although BW passed in 2012, it was quickly repealed and replaced with the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (“HFIAA”) in 2014. This Act reversed the most harmful provisions of BW, and put in place a glide path for gradual premium increases. Notwithstanding HFIAA’s reprieve, policyholders will continue to absorb year-over-year premium increases with certain subsidized risk classifications exposed to continuous increases until premiums reach a rate NIFP determines to be actuarially-based.
If NFIP implements rate increases at the top of the glide path (18%), affordability will rapidly become a substantial concern. HFIAA also did not protect business property and second homes, which face 25 percent year-over-year premium increases.
It is critically important during the current reauthorization that we stay actively engaged in the legislative process, closely monitoring congressional activity and proposed legislative changes - and advocating for preserving affordable premiums and protecting the program.
Monroe is providing leadership to the Florida Association of Counties’ federal committee on NFIP, and working with FAC on outreach to the Florida delegation. Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers presented a resolution to the FAC federal committee at the June FAC conference and secured its support and approval.