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Wicker pushes for flood insurance reform

WASHINGTON — Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) yesterday testified before the Senate Banking Committee on the importance of reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to address the needs of property owners along the coast.

“One of the greatest examples of Katrina’s lingering effects – and one of the biggest impediments to our rebuilding efforts – is the lack of affordable insurance,” said Wicker in the hearing.

Wicker pointed out that the key problem when it comes to protecting property owners from hurricanes is that two kinds of insurance coverage are required – wind and flood. Wicker reiterated his support for multi-peril insurance as well as other new proposals to address some of the problems residents face on the Gulf Coast.

“One of the best things that Congress could do for the Gulf Coast region – not just in my state of Mississippi, but in all of the Gulf Coast states – is to resolve the nuances associated with insuring against hurricanes,” added Wicker. “It is not right that individuals with all the appropriate insurance were, in many instances, forced to go to court to watch the insurers fight amongst themselves before they could be compensated for their loss.”

Wicker highlighted legislation he introduced in July known as the Coordination of Wind and Flood Perils Act (S. 3672) as a way to help property owners after a hurricane. Under this bill, the burden of determining flood and wind loss allocation would be removed from the policyholder and placed on the insurers.

Along with the coordination of wind and flood benefits, Wicker also urged the committee to consider comprehensive reform legislation that would improve flood maps and provide incentives for property owners to make their homes and businesses more flood and wind-proof.

Congress has allowed the NFIP to lapse three times during this year. Tuesday night, the Senate unanimously passed the National Flood Insurance Program Re-extension Act (S. 3814), which provides a one-year renewal of the program through September 30, 2011.

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