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Flood insurance bill reintroduced in Congress

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A bipartisan bill designed to spur more private insurance participation in covering flood risks has been reintroduced into the U.S. Congress.

The Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act clarifies that people who buy private flood insurance should receive the same treatment as those who purchase it through the National Flood Insurance Program if they're trying to obtain federally backed mortgages that require flood insurance. The House of Representatives voted 419-0 in favor of the bill in late April 2016, and it is now being reintroduced in the current Congress by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla., according to statements issued on Wednesday. 

Property owners are currently limited by regulatory barriers to purchasing a one-size-fits-all NFIP flood insurance product, even though private policies can offer more comprehensive coverage at a better rate, according to a statement by Mr. Ross. 

The bill would remove excessive restrictions and would give states more flexibility to license and regulate private flood insurance, according to the statement. Section 239 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 indicated the intent of Congress that private flood insurance should be an option available to homeowners, but narrowly defined acceptable private flood insurance, limiting the flexibility of state regulators to license private flood products, according to the statement. 

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America “supports the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers and believes that good insurance supervision recognizes the wide variety of property-casualty business models that can increase private competition,” Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations, in Washington said in a statement. “This common-sense legislation clarifies the intent of Congress that private flood insurance should be an option available to homeowners.”

The House of Representatives’ Housing and Insurance subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on NFIP reforms for Thursday.