H.R. 5114, the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010, has passed the House by a vote of 239—182. The vote fell largely along party lines, with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R.—Ky.) being the sole member of his party to vote in favor of the bill.
The final vote came after an amendment to add coverage for wind damage to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was denied consideration. The sponsor of that amendment, Rep. Gene Taylor (D.—Miss.), was one of eight Democrats to vote against the legislation.
Indeed, the wind coverage issue has long been one of the primary points of contention that has stymied a lasting resolution to the NFIP, which has lapsed three times in the past two years. Since his district was devastated during Hurricane Katrina, Taylor has championed a mutli-peril approach to the NFIP, saying absent a provision for wind damage, private insurers participating in the NFIP “Write Your Own” (WYO) program could too easily dump claims losses on the NFIP and taxpayers.
Insurers have long contended that inclusion of a wind provision in the NFIP would crowd them out of the market, and organizations such as the American Insurance Association opposed Taylor’s proposed amendment, which would have required insurers to eliminate so-called “anti-concurrent causation” language from their homeowners’ insurance policies.
“Adopting the Taylor amendment would force WYO companies to take a hard look at whether they want to continue participating in the program and could actually result in a reduction in NFIP payouts to policyholders even when they are warranted,” AIA President Leigh Ann Pusey said in a statement.
The Taylor amendment was initially denied consideration after the Parliamentarian of the House deemed it was not germane to H.R. 5114, but Taylor did manage to attach it as the legislation moves to the Senate.
"At the last minute, Rep. Gene Taylor succeeded in attaching a concurrent causation amendment to the flood bill that could make private insurers pay for the obligations of the federal government,” Ben McKay, SVP, federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said in a statement. “Ultimately, the language Rep. Taylor added would prove unworkable, and we will work to convince the Senate to remove this troublesome language. But it is never a good idea to throw out three-quarters of a loaf of good bread, and overall, we are pleased that the House has taken a much-needed step toward extending and preserving the NFIP."
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