Federal flood insurance must be reformed to avoid bankruptcy and pushed to allow private insurance to run the program as opposed to the the federal government, GOP Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said Thursday.
“Let’s set flood insurance up so that the private market can actually come in. Private insurance companies can offer premiums and coverage at better prices than the federal government,” Duffy told Fox News. “We will bail someone out, we’ll pay for their house two, three, five times over. At what point does the government say enough is enough. We’re not going to pay for your house five times. We might pay for it twice, but not four times. We’re going to move you out into a different area.”
He said the flood insurance program continues to spiral further into debt as many people aren’t paying premiums in line with their high-risk locations.
“We’re $25 billion in debt. The program runs a $1.5 billion a year deficit … We should have a reserve fund in this program so when you have a disaster like Harvey, or Katrina, or Sandy we have resources there to pay it,” he said.
Helping Texas is the right thing to do, he said, but warned continued subsidies to flood areas is not fiscally sound, and encouraged Congress to think about future disasters on the horizon.
“Right now what you’re going to see is a supplemental authorization from Congress which is going to throw more money to Texas which is again the heartfelt thing to do. But we should look over the horizon and say how do you make this program work. We have properties that will flood multiple times … let’s help those people get out of those homes into a different house that is safe and secure for them,” he said.
Duffy believes Harvey presents the perfect opportunity to reform federal flood insurance to help make the program solvent going forward.
“The program doesn’t work right now. Harvey is an opportunity to take care of Texas but also reform the flood insurance program and make it sustainable,” he said. “It has to get reauthorized and the reforms that we’re talking about are common sense gentle reform. You can’t shock people [Shannon]. You can’t have a premium one day, and the next day the premium doubles. But you have to put it on a gentle escalator where people start paying rates that are consistent again with their risk.”
“We can’t shell out so much cash when people are building in risky areas,” Duffy said. “Make no mistake we’re going to take care of Texas, but we’re trying to look over the horizon on how we make a program work after Texas for the next big disaster.”
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