Flood insurance program at full capacity as winter approaches

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Coastal owners still have one thing to fear facing the winter storm season, thanks to the expansion of the National Flood Insurance Program and the decision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. to operate at full capacity despite the partial closure of the government.

Months of short-term extensions and two brief program failures have prompted homeowners and experts to prevent a more permanent solution from ever coming. Now, a separate supply bill has allowed funding for the program until May 31 and gives lawyers a chance to lobby for the reforms they absolutely need to do.

"I think if you look at where we were in early 2017, we seem to be back with a new convention and new flood insurance," said Joe Rossi, president of the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition. "We may not get the huge, huge strategic reform that we have always wanted, but we may be able to get something substantial."

The House Committee on Financial Services will have to be at the forefront of any major reform, and the new chairperson, the representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Has already defined the NFIP as a priority.

In the fight for reform, Rossi said the coalition is tackling five major issues: drawing accurate maps of FEMA floods; if the fonts for the serious repetitive loss properties must continue to be written; the operation of private insurance against floods as part of the national program; how funding for mitigation is managed and how to make insurance affordable.

"Every part of the private and federal flood insurance industry will be affected by the changes made in 2019," said Rossi.

The flood insurance program expired for the first time in October 2017 and close to a dozen short-term extensions kept it alive between 21 and 21 December, when the President Donald Trump signed the new six-month extension. The January and March failures are the first of the program since 2010.

When adopting the new extension, FEMA stated that the current closure meant that the insurance program would operate at a reduced capacity to a minimum, that no new policy could be written and would existing fonts could not be changed. Last Friday, however, the agency reversed the trend and announced that the program would continue as usual.

"It took everyone by surprise, it was a shock to the industry," said Rossi. "My initial reaction was," Why do we pass a law to extend the NFIP if the administration has to stop issuing flood insurance policies? ""

The National Association of Realtors estimated that the decision not to publish new policies could have up to 40,000 home sales a month. In Massachusetts, about 60,000 people are insured by the NFIP.

"Even after retroactive retraction, I had to tell people for several days," I can not renew your policy and I can not sell you a new one, "Rossi said. Flood insurance really does not seem to please.This proves that even if we think we know what's going to happen, we'll never do it.If you need to buy or renew insurance, do not wait, In case."

Contact Mary Whitfill at mwhitfill@patriotledger.com.