REALTOR® Tells Congress: Entire Country Needs Flood Insurance

March 13, 2019

Mabél Guzmán testifies on Capitol Hill

© Raphael Lomba

Mabél Guzmán, a broker with @properties in Chicago, told the House Financial Services Committee that the National Flood Insurance Program isn't sustainable without improvements to flood mapping, premium setting, and mitigation funding.

Government-backed flood insurance must be reauthorized for the long term before it expires in May—but Congress can’t stop there, a REALTOR® testified on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Reforms are also needed to make flood maps more accurate and premiums fairer and to get money to homeowners to mitigate their risk before a flood occurs. “The National Flood Insurance Program is not sustainable,” Mabél Guzmán, a broker with @properties in Chicago, told the House Financial Services Committee. “The program was not intended to address the catastrophic losses we’ve seen since 2005.”

The program remains the country's biggest flood insurer but is billions of dollars in debt. The National Association of REALTORS® is asking for reforms that would encourage private alternatives while strengthening the federal program. NAR supports dozens of reforms, including:

  • Flood mapping to make better distinctions between properties in flood zones that are high-risk and those that aren’t.
  • Premium-setting calculations to more fairly account for properties that have mitigated their risk.
  • And a state revolving fund to get mitigation money to property owners.

Guzmán said flooding is not exclusively a coastal problem. About half of all floods since 1990 have occurred in inland states, including Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Montana. “My hometown of Chicago has struggled with flooding,” she said, adding that the city's drainage systems aren't adequate.

The National Flood Insurance Program expires May 31. NAR estimates more than 1,000 transactions a day will not close if the program expires because flood insurance is required on some homes.