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Our nation's flood resiliency imperative
by Amy Bach
Our non-profit's mission is to inform and advocate for the interests of insurance consumers - policyholders. When it comes to flood insurance, those interests are fairly simple:
- Access to affordable coverage for the damage that floods do to property
- Policies that pay on time to repair that damage
Only 5 million of the 122 million households in America are insured for damage from flooding. That includes flooding from hurricane-induced storm surges as well as overflowing rivers and waterways. Climate change is bringing many uncertainties. Increased flooding is not one of them. Increased flooding is a certainty. It's already happening. As a nation, we have to step up. Stepping up has to include recognizing that Americans are all in this together, and although flood resiliency is a complex and challenging problem, we have the resources to improve our situation and strengthen our communities.
Congress should prioritize flood mitigation and improve and reauthorize the NFIP while allowing the growth of viable options in the competitive marketplace. Property owners need to recognize their flood risk and buy insurance to cover it, with help from affordability protections. United Policyholders is working hard to advance those goals.
Earlier leaders had the vision to create a National Flood Insurance Program that aims to prevent and repair flood damage. By design, the program engages the private sector and government, home and business owners, lenders, insurers, engineers, mapping and weather experts, plus FEMA and its parent agency - Homeland Security. The program has many good features, despite being a political football that many love to hate. The program's latest sunset/reauthorization deadline is coming up on December 8th, 2017, and the politics are a doozy.
I recently had the privilege of being on a flood insurance discussion panel at the National Conference of Insurance Legislators Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Innovator Ned Dolese (Coastal American) was also on the panel, along with Frank O'Brien, (PCI - a national insurer trade association/lobbying entity) and OK Insurance Commissioner John Doak. Doak is a strong proponent of prioritizing mitigation. I came away optimistic about innovation in the private sector as a partial solution to our flood resiliency imperative.
As to Congressional action in the next two weeks...stay tuned.
About The Blogger
Amy Bach has been a professional advocate for insurance policyholders since 1984 and an attorney since 1989. She co-founded United Policyholders in 1991 and serves as the organization's Executive Director and primary spokesperson; shaping and overseeing the Roadmap to Recovery™, Roadmap to Preparedness, and Advocacy and Action programs. She is a nationally recognized expert on insurance claim and legal matters; frequently interviewed in print and broadcast media, and the author of numerous publications including "The Disaster Recovery Handbook", "WISE UP: The Savvy Consumer's Guide to Buying Insurance" and consumer tips and guides in the UP Claim Help Library. Recognized by Money Magazine as a Money Hero, Bach is in her eighth consecutive term as an official consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance.