In wake of Hurricane Katrina, Coast Democrat urges reform to National Flood Insurance Program
WASHINGTON — Just before President Obama’s visit to New Orleans Oct. 15, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) wrote the President urging the administration to reform the National Flood Insurance Program and revisit the Taylor-written Multiple Peril Insurance Act of 2009.
Taylor says his act is a “proposed solution to the homeowner insurance crisis that is sweeping America’s homeowners throughout the Gulf and Atlantic coastal states.” Taylor urged the administration to engage “more actively in reforming the National Flood Insurance Program, providing for better disaster insurance coverage, and improving other disaster response and recovery programs.
Taylor’s letter opened by reminding President Obama that since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in Aug. 2005, he has not yet visited the area either as a senator, a candidate for President or as President.
Taylor continued: “Immediately after (Hurricane) Katrina, we learned that some of the largest insurance companies in America were not going to honor their (homeowner) policies.”
Taylor pointed out in great detail the impact that the insurance industry’s refusal to honor their homeowner contracts had not only on coastal Americans, but also on federal taxpayers throughout the nation.
“The insurance tactics not only over-billed the federal taxpayers through the National Flood Insurance Program, but also resulted in billions of dollars of additional federal disaster assistance to assist the displaced residents during their long insurance disputes. Most homeowners whose wind insurance claims had been denied eventually reached some settlement with their insurers after years of delay, but in the meantime, thousands of displaced residents were dependent on federal assistance,” he wrote.
“If no other lesson is learned from the experience of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, we should have learned that coastal residents need to be able to buy hurricane insurance that will cover hurricane damage without gaps in coverage, without lengthy disputes over the cause of damage, and without inherent conflicts of interest that allow insurance companies to shift liabilities to taxpayers.
“I sincerely believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but only if the prevention measures are effective, efficient, and accountable. In the case of the flood program, its effectiveness is heavily dependent on the integrity of levees and other flood control structures, the accuracy of the flood risk maps, and local enforcement of building codes and flood plain management standards. All of these factors call for better federal administration and oversight of contracts.”