St. Paul – The combination of election year politics and more hard-hitting hurricanes is pushing bipartisan support for a National Catastrophic Insurance Fund into the forefront.
As Floridians and other coastal residents took to higher ground in anticipation of several tropical storms headed their way, the GOP touted a plank in the party's platform this week that calls for a ''natural disaster insurance policy''—a provision opposed by GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
Republicans in Florida said the move signals the party’s support for a federal insurance backstop, which has been a priority for Floridians since Hurricane Andrew hit the state in 1992.
Democrats, who leveled a more extensive provision into their platform, applauded the GOP for its response, but reminded the press that in the past, McCain has rejected calls for a national insurance program.
On a visit in January to Florida’s Coral Gables community, McCain told the press that he did not support a national catastrophe insurance policy, citing the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a form of insurance.
The DNC's platform was adopted on Monday, Aug. 25. In the section titled, "Preventing and Responding to Future Catastrophes," (pg. 41), it says:
"We will also work to prevent future catastrophic response failures, whether the emergency comes from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wild fires, drought, bridge collapses, or any other natural or man-made disaster …
"We will develop a National Catastrophic Insurance Fund to offer an affordable insurance mechanism for high-risk catastrophes that no single private insurer can cover by itself for fear of bankruptcy. This will allow states to deal comprehensively with the economic dislocation of natural disasters."
The Republican National Committee's platform was adopted on Monday, Sept. 2. In the section titled, "Domestic Disaster Response," (pg. 18), it says:
"Americans hit by disaster must never again feel abandoned by their government. The Katrina disaster taught a painful lesson: The federal government's system for responding to a natural calamity needs a radical overhaul. We recognize the need for a natural disaster insurance policy.
"State and local cooperation is crucial, as are private relief efforts, but Washington must take the lead in forging a partnership with America's best run businesses to ensure that FEMA's Emergency Operations Centers run as well as any Fortune 500 company. We must make it easier for both businesses and non-profits to act as force-multipliers in relief situations. We believe it is critical to support those impacted by natural disasters and to complete the rebuilding of devastated areas, including the Gulf Coast."
The bipartisan support follows on a bill called the Homeowners' Defense Act of 2007, and passed by the House of Representatives by a 258-155 margin.
Sources: Insurance Journal, MarketWatch, Miami Herald
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