The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (Biggert-Waters) was enacted in 2012 with the goal of reforming and thereby saving the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Executive Summary

Instead of continuing to alter the NFIP, Congress should work to encourage private insurers to insure flood risk, according to Nelson Levine de Luca & Hamilton's Lawrence H. Mirel, a former D.C. insurance commissioner, and Scott Paris. In this article, Mirel and Paris propose three possible ways to fix the system, each of which they believe would spread risk widely, lower system costs, and maintain actuarially sound pricing.

It is a well-meaning and long overdue effort, but it falls far short of what is needed. Moreover, even before most of its provisions kick in Congress is considering a flurry of bills designed to delay and possibly even destroy those reforms by gutting the sections of Biggert-Waters intended to gradually allow FEMA to bring the rates into line with the risks.

Without adequate rates to support the program, the National Flood Insurance Program is doomed. If Congress really wants to ensure the continued availability of flood insurance to private property owners in the United States, much more drastic reforms than those set out in the Biggert-Waters Act are needed.

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