The National Flood Insurance Program, Zoning Regulations, and Hurricanes: Lessons for Lawmakers

September 25, 2017

This September, Congress will work to reauthorize the expiring National Flood Insurance Program (NFIB). This effort comes on the tail of the worst flooding in Texas history after Hurricane Harvey dropped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of rainfall around the Gulf Coast causing catastrophic damage to both lives and property.

In this environment, what should Congress understand as it undertakes reforms to the flood insurance program? The magnitude and depth of the program’s insolvency, arbitrary actuarial standards, and restrictive competitive road blocks all bedevil the effective operation of the NFIB. Are there promising avenues for reforms that would allow market forces to enhance the stability and reliability of consumers’ insurance needs?

What about flooding itself—what impact does climate change have on the need for flood insurance in the first place? Can we expect more frequent and more dangerous storms in the future? Further, what role do local and regional zoning regulations have on impervious ground conditions and water absorption? Our esteemed panel will answer these questions on hurricanes, floods, and their aftermath, as well as offer suggestions for what Congress should, and should not, do regarding future disaster mitigation efforts.

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