Flood insurance is on everyone’s mind these days, first it was Biggert-Waters in 2012, then it was the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in 2014, and as of late, the implementation of some of the changes from these programs effective on April 1, 2015.
So with all the anticipation on what the future may hold regarding flood insurance, I wanted to know firsthand what the flood industry was working on. So I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the National Flood Conference and listened to various discussions on the National Flood Insurance Program, where it’s currently at, after enduring the staggering losses from hurricanes Sandy & Katrina as well as numerous interior flooding events.
I heard about the challenges that were endured by policyholders, adjusters and agents, due to not enough communication between all parties to understand what a Flood policy covers and what it doesn’t.
I had the pleasure of listening to FEMA leaders stating their frustrations with the program and seeing their passion to seek a better way to insure that policyholders in the future understand what a flood policy is in order to avoid confusion and a delay in the flood loss settlement.
Many attendees want to move the flood program into the future that will incorporate the latest in technology to reasonably predict how a flood loss in certain areas will affect the buildings whether it is in a 100 year or 500 year scenario. The technology we have available today thru laser sonar and geo-mapping is quite amazing as it can take in consideration the location of a building to the imminent flood hazard and relay what the expectation of loss would be based on the type of wave action.
Affordability was an important issue as no one wants a repeat of the staggering flood rates in some cases showed by the removal of the subsidized rates. All of those involved understand that any potential changes needs to have a gradual affect. Some argued that nothing should be changed with the program until all parties have reviewed the available data to show what any changes to the program would cause. Whereas a few attendees questioned if there was any reason to change the flood program as they see a program that has been in existence since 1968 without too much issues other than Katrina and Sandy. While the others see a need for reform due to the rising waters all over the world and the turbulent weather we are seeing, more flood events will inevitably occur, so to make sure the program can sustain itself it would be best to make changes to the program.
Questions were asked on how the National Flood Insurance program can be reformed. How do we keep flood rates reasonable?
How do we encourage those that have buildings in areas that are not required by their lenders to carry a flood policy or as here on the island, how do we encourage those without a mortgage to carry a flood policy for their property?
Some solutions to these questions were to introduce a voucher program that encouraged flood mitigation efforts, such as installing flood vents to lower enclosed areas of the building to allow the flow of water, elevate existing ground level homes so they are above the base flood levels, and in extreme cases, relocate the dwelling to a less flood prone area. Educate the public on the potential to flood loss by implantation of interactive data to show flood scenarios to property owned.
These suggestions are just that for now, suggestions, and we will have to stay tuned to see what changes (if any) are introduced in 2017 when the renewal of the flood program is up. So for now we all need to remain diligent on staying informed on this matter and voice our concerns when necessary to our representatives in Washington.