Pathologies of the National Flood Insurance Program 1

In the midst of what looks to be an active hurricane season, Congress is set to vote on a measure that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expires on September 30th. For these reasons, now is a good time for a refresher on NFIP, with all of its problems.

With the reauthorization vote on the horizon, I wrote a short piece, published at The Washington Post, which lays out in short form some of the key problems with NFIP, and how the NFIP actually exacerbates flood risk. You can read the piece here.

In a companion piece published a few months ago in LSE’s US Centre blog on American Politics and Policy, I explain how the politics of the program make it very difficult to reform. You can read this article here.

If you’re really interested, you can read the long-form academic article I wrote on this topic:
Strother, Logan. “The National Flood Insurance Program: A Case Study in Policy Failure, Reform, and Retrenchment.” Policy Studies Journal. Early access: DOI: 10.1111/psj.12189

Reforming (or not) the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

I wrote a short piece for the London School of Economics’ blog on American Politics and Policy. The blog post is based on an article I wrote concerning Congress’ effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program after Hurricane Katrina, and then its almost immediate decision to repeal those reforms. The reform measure drastically reduced or eliminated subsidies, ended the grandfather clause, and number of other things; the second measure restored them.

To briefly summarize the piece, I find that Congress was able to pass the reforms—despite the fact that those reforms would increase insurance premiums for some of their constituents—because the issue received very little public attention while it was being considered. And receiving little attention, there was virtually no pressure placed on Congress by parochial interests or constituents aimed at securing special benefits at the public’s expense. After Congress passed the reform legislation (the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012), however, the public attention—and thus public pressure on Congress—increased dramatically. Congress responded shortly thereafter by passing the Grimm-Waters Act of 2014, which repealed most of the important policy reforms they had enacted just two years before. You can read the blog post here, which elaborates my findings, or the full-length article (which goes into great detail, for the stout of heart) here.