Abir-backed group writes to Clinton, Trump
A group backed by Bermuda reinsurers has called on US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to back moves to switch American focus to mitigating risk from natural disasters.
SmarterSafer, whose members include consumer advocates, environmental organisations and insurer groups, wrote to both White House hopefuls, urging them to call for a national mitigation strategy during their campaigns.
The letter begins: “Earlier this month, Hurricane Matthew caused some of the worse storm damage seen in the United States since Superstorm Sandy. This tragedy is just the latest in a series of catastrophic flooding disasters this year that struck in Louisiana, Florida, Maryland and West Virginia, devastating hundreds of communities, killing dozens of people and leaving thousands of Americans scrambling to rebuild.
“Increasingly frequent and severe storms pose an unprecedented risk to life and property for millions of Americans, and will require the next president's urgent attention. Despite these dangers, federal disaster policies focus almost entirely on post-disaster clean-up instead of predisaster strategies that minimise damage before a storm strikes.
“This approach is completely unsustainable, and we urge you to use the bully pulpit of this presidential campaign to call on Congress to implement a national mitigation strategy that enables communities to better prepare for future severe weather.
“A national strategy would help people living in disaster-prone areas take proactive steps to mitigate risk rather than encourage further development in high-risk, environmentally sensitive areas.”
The letter also calls for reforms to open up the flood insurance market to the private sector.
“Congress should also reform and strengthen the National Flood Insurance Programme by expanding the number of people who purchase flood insurance, reducing regulatory burdens to private sector competition, and ensuring more accurate risk analysis and rates,” SmarterSafer states.
“Too few people purchase flood insurance, even those at risk. While there are numerous reasons for this, many people do not trust NFIP, and many people mistakenly believe the federal government will step in and disaster assistance will make them whole. However, the average award of disaster assistance is low, and without flood insurance, many families are unable to rebuild.
“To expand the pool of people with flood coverage and to allow consumers choice, the Senate must pass HR 2901, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernisation Act, which passed the House unanimously with a 419-0 vote on April 28, 2016.
“This commonsense bill levels the playing field so private sector flood policies do not face regulatory hurdles. The availability of private flood insurance will give consumers the option of purchasing NFIP or private policies, which could provide better rates and better coverage. For too long, those at risk have only had one option — a one-size-fits-all NFIP policy.”