Flood Insurance Extension Likely, But Reforms Elusive

September 16, 2019

Congress is expected to extend the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires Sept. 30, but less clear is when Congress will turn to meaningful program reforms the National Association of REALTORS® and other housing groups have advocated for years.

Outdated federal flood maps—some of which haven’t been updated in more than 40 years, housing experts warn—may be influencing homeowners not to seek proper flood insurance if they falsely believe they don’t live in a high risk floodplain. NAR has long called on reforming the maps, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses to assess flood risk and crisis response.

Insurance premiums are also failing to reflect the true risk to properties, NFIP CEO David Maurstad told the McClatchy Company in a recent article. “We’ve been working to make sure people understand right now that not enough people have the flood insurance they need—not only after big events like Dorian,” Maurstad says. “Too many people are in denial about their flood risk.”

Congress has already extended the NFIP, which provides flood insurance coverage to 22,000 communities nationwide, 12 times. Lawmakers are expected to extend the NFIP for at least another 60 days, but NAR analysts say Congress has yet to reach a decision point on a long-term solution. McClatchy reports that divisions persist in Congress between representatives from many areas of the country—especially along the coasts—and those from lower-risk regions inland.

Meteorologists warn that rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms will continue to threaten more areas with flooding. NFIP protects property owners against flooding, which is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.