Flood insurance program needs reform
There was some unintended symmetry to Congress' June 1 decision to extend, for two months, the National Flood Insurance Program. June 1 also is the official beginning of the summer hurricane season, which increases risks of flooding from the Florida Keys to Maine, from Tampa to Corpus Christi.
Without the extension, the eighth since 2008, property owners in at-risk locations would not have been able to insure against flooding, which rarely is covered in commercial policies.
Congress not only should fully reauthorize the program, which is more than $17 billion in debt to the Treasury because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, but reform it.
The program should establish rates based on actual risk, which would better fund the program while helping to deter flood-plain development. For the same reasons, flood insurance should be mandatory for high-risk properties in flood plains. Now, it is required primarily when a property owner seeks a mortgage.
The program is authorized only until July 31. Congress should work not merely on another extension through this year, but on a long-term authorization that also makes the program reflective of the true risks in the field.