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Wicker, Hyde-Smith sponsor National...

Wicker, Hyde-Smith sponsor National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization & Reform Act

By: Anne Summerhays - November 2, 2021

Miss. Senators helped to reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation

Today, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith helped reintroduce legislation to implement a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP) and ensure more affordable premiums for policyholders in Mississippi and around the country.

The National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform (NFIP-RE) Act (S.3128) is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to extend NIFP for five years through Sept. 30, 2026, and authorize reforms to assist policyholders and ensure the long-term success of the program.

“The NFIP is a lifeline for many Mississippi communities that remain at risk of flooding,” Senator Wicker said. “After an active season of floods, it is clear that the NFIP not only needs to be reauthorized, but also that it needs to be reformed to make it work better for taxpayers and policyholders alike.”

NFIP-RE Act (S.3218) would:

  • Protect policyholders from exorbitant premium hikes by capping annual increases at 9 percent and instituting guardrails on the new FEMA rating methodology, known as Risk Rating 2.0. 
  • Freeze interest payments on the NFIP debt and reinvests savings toward cost-saving mitigation efforts to restore the program to solvency and reduce future borrowing.
  • Increase the maximum limit for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage to reflect the costs of rebuilding and implementing mitigation projects more accurately.  It also expands ICC coverage eligibility to encourage more proactive mitigation before natural disasters strike.
  • Provide robust funding levels for cost-effective investments in mitigation, which have a large return on investment and are the most effective way to reduce flood risk.
  • Increase funding to implement Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to the FEMA flood-mapping program for more accurate flood risk across the country, generating data that will lead to better building and land use.
  • Create new oversight measures for insurance companies and vendors, and provides FEMA with greater authority to terminate contractors with a track record of abuse.
  • Reform the claims process to level the playing field for policyholders during appeal or litigation.  It bans aggressive legal tactics preventing homeowners from filing legitimate claims, holds FEMA to strict deadlines to help homeowners receive quick and fair payments, and ends FEMA reliance on outside legal counsel from expensive for-profit entities.

“Flooding poses a consistent threat throughout Mississippi and fundamental problems within the National Flood Insurance Program causes unneeded economic and emotional trauma for thousands of families,” said Senator Hyde-Smith. “It’s time we get serious about fixing what’s wrong with the program, while implementing reforms that will benefit taxpayers and policyholders over the long term.”

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the bill and has been an advocate in Congress for an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), since Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey.

“It is time Congress stops kicking the can down the road with reauthorizations that do not address the systemic problems plaguing this program. With this legislation, we can make NFIP more sustainable, we can make flood insurance more affordable, and we can hold FEMA and its private contractors more accountable,” said Sen. Menendez. “And instead of waiting for the next disaster to strike, we can invest in mitigation that prevents costly flood damage in the first place.”

You can view the full text of S.3128 here.
About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth.