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Privatizing flood insurance a 'priority' for House finance committee



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WASHINGTON — Consideration of a bill that would encourage private insurers to enter the flood insurance market is a “priority” for the House Financial Services Committee, the chairman of the panel said Wednesday.

Speaking to the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ annual legislative summit on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said that there is so little private involvement in the flood insurance market that “anything we can do” is a step in the right direction.

Most flood insurance in the United States is written under the National Flood Insurance Program, which is about $25 billion in debt, Rep. Hensarling said.

He said the committee’s consideration of the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act — H.R. 2901 — is a priority for his panel. The measure would give states the right to regulate private flood insurers in an effort to encourage the development of a private flood insurance market and lessen dependence on the NFIP.

“I’ll do everything I can do to open up the program,” Rep. Hensarling said, adding there are “huge segments” of the flood insurance market that could be opened up to the private market.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in his own remarks to summit attendees, called cyber threats “the white elephant in the room.” He said that the Obama administration has no policy to prevent cyber attacks such as the one on the Office of Personnel Management in June 2015, that compromised personal information on millions of people. “There will be more” attacks, he said. Sen. McCain said that the Russians are the best at carrying out cyber attacks against U.S. interests, with the Chinese ranking second.

The summit drew about 150 attendees, which set a record.