In January of this year, one of the first votes I took was to provide the National Flood Insurance Program with funding needed to honor commitments to policyholders who were victims of Superstorm Sandy.
This vote awakened me to the long-term problems with the NFIP and the need for reforms to make sure this program is solvent, sustainable and reliable. Right now, NFIP is up to $30 billion in debt.
In 2012, before I arrived to Washington, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act to address NFIP’s failures. The goals of this legislation were admirable and meant to address the NFIP’s shortcomings. However, the result has been massive premium increases for mandatory flood insurance in our area. The results are potentially catastrophic, with an entirely new wave of foreclosures, stifled sales and business owners simply walking away from their life-long dream.
There is no doubt, NFIP is losing money and needs to be reformed, but not on the backs of Southwest Floridians. It’s not fair to punish responsible policy holders for the government’s failure to manage this program. The changes have left some homeowners and businesses in our community with an insurance bill literally tens of thousands of dollars more than they were paying only a year ago.
While the federal government cannot continue to massively subsidize the risks for homeowners in flood-prone areas, it also can’t drastically increase premiums and destroy our economy.
To protect policyholders in our area while ensuring the long term solvency of the NFIP, I have signed onto the Flood Insurance Fairness Act, sponsored by fellow Floridian, Rep. Richard Nugent.
This legislation requires the government to do an affordability study before putting any new reforms into place. Once an affordability study is completed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency must suggest to Congress real reforms that work for you and your family while making the program financially stable.
The NFIP must pay its debts down, but not at the cost of bankrupting Southwest Florida. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, from New York to Florida to Texas, to reform this program while ensuring an affordable future for you and your family.