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Realtor testifies to Congress about national flood insurance

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WASHINGTON – March 14, 2019 – A representative from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) testified yesterday before the U.S. House Financial Service Committee during a hearing called “Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).”

Mabél Guzmán, a 21-year Realtor from Chicago, told Chairman Maxine Waters that Realtors support efforts to reform NFIP’s mapping and mitigation programs. She said that NAR continues to work with Congress and FEMA to increase access to a private flood insurance market and secure NFIP’s future.

“The embattled National Flood Insurance Program is central to U.S. disaster preparedness efforts,” Guzmán testified. “According to NAR research, the program is also essential to completing half-a-million home sales per year, each of which contributes two jobs and $80,000 to America’s economy. However, the NFIP was not designed nor intended to address the catastrophic loss years we have seen since 2005, meaning the program is not sustainable as currently structured.”

Congress has pieced together dozens of short-term flood insurance extensions over the past decade, and NAR has raised concerns that NFIP protections will vanish if the program remains on its current path. As a result, NAR has consistently supported proposals that strengthen flood mapping and mitigation, remove regulatory obstacles to a more robust private flood insurance market and address repeatedly flooding properties, which account for 2 percent of all NFIP policies but 25 percent of claim payments.

“NAR thanks Chairman Waters for her continued work toward responsible, bipartisan reform of the National Flood Insurance Program,” said NAR Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Shannon McGahn. “Specifically, we’re encouraged to see today’s hearing focus on the need for reforms to flood mapping systems, changes which will make claims more accurate and increase transparency for potential homebuyers. Along with a focus on the private flood insurance market, these priorities will be critical building blocks as we move forward in NFIP reform discussions.”

“Flooding is not just a coastal issue … roughly half of all flood disaster declarations since 1990 occurred in landlocked states,” Guzmán testified. “Realtors have also stressed that reforms should better align rates to risk, particularly for inland and lower-value properties, while rate increases must be phased in appropriately.”

Guzmán called on Congress to “reauthorize and reform the NFIP before its insurance writing authority expires on May 31. … As we have seen, a never-ending string of short-term extensions only maintains an uncertain status quo, while program shutdowns jeopardize homes, businesses, communities and the U.S. economy. NAR stands ready to work with this committee to pass meaningful NFIP and private-market reforms that help property owners and renters prepare for and recover from future flood losses.”

© 2019 Florida Realtors®

 

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