Gloria Gonzalez, Business Insurance, June 18, 2019

Federal legislators are finally heeding the call to put more resources into flood mapping and mitigation activities to ease the financial burden on the debt-ridden National Flood Insurance Program, experts say.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on Wednesday approved H.R. 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, on a 59-0 vote.

“A long-term reauthorization that’s bipartisan is perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the legislation and one of the most important ones given the inability for us to pass a long-term reauthorization that’s truly bipartisan in the previous Congress,” said Jon Gentile, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents in Washington. “This is a really good bill.”

“I think both sides compromised, and that’s not a dirty word,” he added.

The bill would provide $500 million per year over five years for flood mapping and requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to utilize updated mapping technology, such as LiDAR, and to ensure that maps are adequate for identifying future flood risk.

“I think everybody recognizes the mapping infrastructure in many geographies is a decade-plus old,” said John Dickson, president of Aon Edge in Kalispell, Montana, which sells flood insurance policies. “Having outdated maps doesn’t do anyone any valuable service. Every stakeholder in the industry has been calling for this for a quite a while, so seeing funds specifically attributed to that effort is a huge step forward.”

The bill would provide $200 million each year for five years for the predisaster hazard mitigation program and create the first community assistance program for floodplain management by providing community assistance grants and technical assistance — funding the effort with $20 million each year for five years.

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