U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) today announced Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member, Richard Shelby (R-AL) agreed to include the Wicker COASTAL amendment in a reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) when the broader measure is considered by the full Senate. The Senate Banking Committee approved a five-year reauthorization, and Committee leaders vowed to secure time on the Senate Floor.
Wicker's provision would help determine wind versus water claims and provide greater certainty to homeowners and the insurance market, ensuring certain losses from future storms are settled in a timely and equitable manner.
"Today's agreement is an important step to solving the wind versus water dispute problem," said Wicker. "The COASTAL Amendment protects taxpayers and policyholders from the inappropriate shifting of wind damage claims to the flood program, as happened in Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While the COASTAL formula will be used to prevent overpayment for flood losses, I believe that the use of the FEMA formula and the NOAA data will have a second important national benefit, which is to help protect consumers from any industry abuses in the future. I appreciate Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Shelby for their leadership on this measure. I will work to make sure this bill gets to the Floor."
"I thank Senator Wicker for all his valuable input as we move this important bill forward," said Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson. "Throughout the crafting of this legislation, Senator Wicker proved to be a true champion for Mississippi by making his constituents' interests his top priority."
"Sen. Wicker has been a tireless advocate for the people of Mississippi," said Banking Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby. I look forward to continue working with him to reform the NFIP so that it protects not only homeowners who rely on it, but also taxpayers who back it."
Currently, the National Flood Insurance Program expires on September 30, 2011. The Wicker amendment utilizes data currently collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), academic institutions, and private entities to allocate wind versus water damage following significant storms. Using a post-storm event formula developed under the amendment, damage would be determined by its source and attributed to wind or water peril. The formula would be applied on a property-by-property basis so individual engineering characteristics of each home would be taken into account. This would allow accurate insurance settlements when no tangible evidence remains after a hurricane.
The alternative loss allocation system would be based on the timing, location, and magnitude of wind speeds and storm surges before, during, and after a major coastal storm.
Last year, Wicker held a roundtable with Mississippi Gulf Coast residents to discuss ways to improve the NFIP. "There is no question that one of the most difficult obstacles in recovering from Hurricane Katrina -- or preparing for the next storm -- has been the cost and availability of insurance," remarked Wicker during that meeting.