Join American Rivers in opposing HR 1264, the “Multiple Peril Insurance Act of 2009″

With the House expected to vote this week on a bill (HR 1264, the “Multiple Peril Insurance Act of 2009”) to expand the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to include coverage for windstorms, we hope you will join us in asking Congress to oppose this legislation that would increase incentives to develop and redevelop many dangerous, high-risk and environmentally-sensitive areas, give citizens a false sense of security, and cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. 

Although we recognize that Americans are facing many challenges in keeping out of harm’s way, expanding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to include coverage of windstorms is not the answer. 

Our rivers, wetlands, floodplains, and coastal areas must remain intact to help protect and buffer communities from storms and flooding damages.  Climate change will increase these damages due to the projected increased frequency and intensity of precipitation and storm events.  Unfortunately, H.R. 1264 would result in the taxpayers subsidizing even more development in hazard-prone and ecologically-sensitive coastal areas and floodplains.  This will impact the beneficial functions these areas provide including storm protection, clean water, and wildlife habitat, not to mention the natural beauty which accounts for billions of tourism dollars annually.  A federally-backed wind insurance program would also erroneously give citizens living in these areas a false sense of security and a belief that they are protected from catastrophic losses, when they are not.  Rather than subsidizing development in the floodplain and coastal areas, the Federal government should be in the business of moving people out of harm’s way, protecting and restoring areas that provide natural flood protection, and communicating the true risk of flooding to Americans while protecting the taxpayers.

The NFIP’s unmanageable $18.75 billion debt to the U.S. Treasury, its lack of an actuarially-based financial structure, and failure to reduce natural hazard risks leaves it vulnerable to major catastrophic losses.  Adding wind coverage to such a program will only exacerbate the need for bailouts from the American taxpayers.  Instead, American Rivers believes that a sound approach to reforming the NFIP is warranted.  FEMA has begun a two-year comprehensive review of the NFIP to make recommendations that will improve and potentially overhaul the flood program.  Now is not the time to add the high costs and risks of wind insurance to the NFIP.  Both Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have stated that they oppose adding wind damage coverage to the NFIP. 

Please join us in urging Congress to oppose H.R. 1264 because adding wind insurance to the NFIP will damage the environment, give citizens a false sense of security, and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.