November 9, 2021

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Two Florida representatives have joined the list of officials pushing for a change in the National Flood Insurance Program.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, R-Orlando, who is running for the Senate, is one of 17 cosponsors of the NFIP Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2021, HR 5802. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a candidate for Florida governor, also has signed on to the bill. Other sponsors include U.S. Reps. Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana, Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey.

The similar Senate bill, S 3128, is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, whom Demings plans to challenge in the Senate race next year.

Rep. Val Demings

With the much-debated flood insurance program up for reauthorization again next month, and the program following a new risk rating system, critics on boths sides of the aisle have said that major changes are needed.

The House bill would cap premium increases at 9%. Thousands of homeowners’ rates are expected to increase significantly due to the new rating system, which rates a property’s vulnerability based on many new factors. Some properties on higher ground, but still in the flood zone, for example, should see decreases in rates, while lower-lying parcels should see spikes, officials have said.

The House bill also would:

  • Create an affordability program to ensure coverage for low- and middle-income families.
  • Allow states to offer low-interest loans to homeowners, businesses, non-profits and communities for flood mitigation and resiliency projects.
  • Cap the compensation paid to private insurers that write flood insurance policies that are backed with reinsurance from the NFIP, known as “write your own” policies.
  • Authorize $500 million per year for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to modernize its flood maps, using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology for more accurate mapping.
  • Institute policyholder protection and fairness provisions to ensure homeowners who faithfully paid their premiums are treated fairly during the claims process.
  • Require the disclosure of flood risk and prior flood damage claims to lessors and homebuyers before transfer of the property.

The House bill has been sent to the House Financial Services Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott, also has introduced bills that would bring significant changes to the NFIP.