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Congress aims to address NFIP flood risk mapping, mitigation

Posted On: Apr. 1, 2019 12:00 AM CST

Draft legislation for a comprehensive overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program would strengthen the program’s flood risk mapping and mitigation initiatives, experts say.

The legislation would reauthorize the flood-mapping program and provide $400 million per fiscal year through 2023 to fund improvements to mapping technology, including the use of property-level Light Detection and Ranging surveys.

The Congressional Budget Office found that of the 166 U.S. counties with expected annual flood claims of more than $2 million, together representing 89% of the NFIP’s $3.7 billion in total expected annual claims, 83 counties had maps that were more than 5 years old and 17 had maps that were more than 16 years old, according to a November 2017 report.

“I don’t think there’s any real disagreement on the need to engage in those type of activities,” said Tom Santos, vice president of public policy advocacy for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association in Washington. “I think the hurdle that needs to be overcome is that they are expensive.”

On the mitigation side, the legislation would double the Increased Cost of Compliance coverage, which currently provides up to $30,000 to help cover the cost of mitigation measures to reduce flood risk and enable policyholders to use ICC coverage — part of most NFIP policies — to reduce their risk before the property floods. An ICC increase is “very, very helpful,” said Alan Rubin, a New York-based principal with Blank Rome LLP.