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Problems with NFIP




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Insurance Information Institute President Bob Hartwig lays out the problems with the NFIP from the industry’s point of view.





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Former GAO chief David Walker says there's a potential for conflict of interest when insurance companies also estimate NFIP payments.




The National Flood Insurance Program now owes $18 billion to the U.S.Treasury.  How did this happen?  There are many problems with the NFIP, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. Here are some of the major ones:



  • Although the NFIP is meant to operate like an insurance company,  it doesn't.  Its premium payments are subsidized by taxpayers. and it sells coverage to homeowners whose properties flood repeatedly. The Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, estimates that the program undercharges homeowners by $750 million per year.  As a result, the program has no reserves to pay for catastrophes.


  • Most people buy flood insurance only when they purchase a mortgage. In addition, rates are set to your outstanding mortgage balance, not the value of your home, meaning many homeowners are underinsured for flood.


  • The NFIP works from hopelessly outdated flood maps. These so-called flood insurance rate maps tell homeowners how high the risk of flooding is in their area. These maps are not up-to-date - in fact even after Katrina, the flood maps remained pegged to 1996 indicators.


  • Industry-watchdogs allege that FEMA pays exorbitantly high fees to the insurance companies administering the NFIP. In 2004, one-third of all premium dollars went to the companies who sell policies and settle claims. In 2006, that number shot up to two-thirds of each premium dollar. That left less than $1 billion to cover catastrophes. FEMA is restructuring how it repays insurance companies after investigations by the Government Accountability Office and Congress.












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NFIP - The National Flood Insurance Program.  The federal program that guarantees homeowners are covered for flood losses.

FEMA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Administers the NFIP.

WYO - Write Your Own insurance:  FEMA's name for outsourced flood insurance policies. FEMA contracts with existing insurance companies to sell, adjust, and settle flood claims.




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