| March 20
March 20 A proposal by the Trump administration
to cut $190 million in funding for updating U.S. maps of
flood-prone areas would trigger higher insurance rates or more
homebuilding in risky locations, a consumer group said on
Flood-mapping provides important details about where it is
safe to build, whether flood insurance is needed and how to
price coverage, Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the
Consumer Federation of America, said in a statement.
Slashing funding for the National Flood Insurance Program's
(NFIP) retooling of U.S. flood maps will lead to relying on old
maps and construction in areas that are now flood prone, or
hiking insurance premiums to pay for new maps, Hunter said.
The White House 2018 budget, unveiled last Thursday, would
eliminate a $190 million "discretionary appropriation" for the
National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) updating of U.S. flood
maps and "explore other more effective and fair means of funding
flood mapping efforts."
Costs for mapping have been shared by insurance
policyholders and the federal government for the past 15 years,
said a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA),
which operates the flood insurance program.
"The president’s budget directs us to explore avenues to
shift these costs away from general appropriations," the FEMA
Updating U.S. flood maps is seen by consumer and insurance
industry advocates as a necessary step toward modernizing the
U.S. flood insurance market.
The White House 2018 budget is the first step in a long
process that will be debated by U.S. lawmakers.
The NFIP, whose authorization is set to expire in September,
could face other sweeping changes. The program is $24.6 billion
in debt to the U.S. Treasury Department, the FEMA spokeswoman
Insurance industry groups are also concerned about the
mapping proposal. "Understandably, we’re all concerned about the
potential to undermine efforts to modernize the maps," said
Leigh Ann Pusey, president and chief executive officer of the
American Insurance Association.
Still, the budget process is at an early stage, Pusey said.
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Roberta
Rampton in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)