NU Online News Service
As Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., continues to lobby the House for his bill adding wind to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), another bill in the Senate seeks a compromise to settle the “wind vs. water” issue.
It is unclear for now whether Rep. Taylor will be able to get a House vote on his bill–H.R. 1264, the Multiple Peril Insurance Act–before the House leaves Friday for its month-long summer recess.
The bill was cleared for a vote last week but was pulled from the floor before the vote could take place.
House Democratic staffers said action was postponed because a debate on a jobs bill took longer than expected, and House members had already made travel connections out of town in anticipation of an early departure.
The bill has little support in the Senate, and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is planning to introduce legislation Thursday that will seek to bridge the gap over the controversial wind vs. water issue that dates back to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Under the five-page Wicker bill, should a wind vs. water claim arise and the NFIP and wind insurer–either a private carrier or state wind pool–not agree on how to divide the claim, the policyholder would immediately receive 50 percent of the claim payout from the NFIP and 50 percent from the insurer.
The claim would then go to an arbitration panel to settle the differences between the NFIP and the wind insurer.
Spokesmen for Rep. Taylor declined to comment directly on the issue today, but acknowledged that they are still seeking a floor vote on the measure before the House recesses.
“It is unclear what will happen,” said a Rep. Taylor staffer who asked not to be named.
“We are talking to the House leadership, and have met with several groups within the House, but action might be postponed until September, the staffer acknowledged.
In comments on Tuesday to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Rep. Taylor said, “I hate to say this, but another hurricane may have to happen” for the bill to pass.
Addressing damage to homes by high winds, Rep. Taylor said, “Nothing has changed since [Hurricane] Katrina.”
The bill is opposed by all elements of the insurance industry, and the Obama administration last Thursday said it opposes the bill.
In a statement today, David Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said, “This proposed legislation is unnecessary and fraught with negative consequences that will harm consumers and the marketplace at a fragile time for our American economy.”
He added, “This approach is a mistake that could deliver devastating results to the U.S. jobs market and add billions to the federal deficit.”