WASHINGTON – Yesterday, a representative from the National Association of Realtors® testified to the House Financial Service Committee during its hearing, ” Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program .” Mabél Guzmán, a 21-year Realtor® from Chicago, IL, told Chairman Maxine Waters that Realtors® support Committee efforts to reform NFIP’s mapping and mitigation programs while the nation’s largest trade association continues to work with Congress and FEMA to open the door to a private flood insurance market and secure the NFIP’s future.
Mabel Guzman, broker of @properties in Chicago, told the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday that Congress must not let the National Flood Insurance Program lapse. It expires in mid-May. She also said the program isn’t sustainable for the long-term without improvements to flood mapping, premium setting, and mitigation funding.
“The embattled National Flood Insurance Program is central to U.S. disaster preparedness efforts,” Guzmán said in her testimony. “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.”
As Congress has pieced together dozens of short-term flood insurance extensions over the past decade, NAR has raised concerns that NFIP protections will vanish if the program remains on its current path. In response, Realtors® have been consistent supporters of 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 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 Sr. 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 a constant threat for thousands of communities across both inland and coastal America. As Guzmán pointed out in her testimony, “Flooding is not just a coastal issue… roughly half of all flood disaster declarations since 1990 occurred in landlocked states.” 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.
“Congress should reauthorize and reform the NFIP before its insurance writing authority expires on May 31,” Guzmán, the broker for @properties in Chicago, told the Committee. “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.”
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.