Harvey’s impacts highlight upcoming flood insurance deadline

By Greg Murphy, 2017 President of CCIAOR

Seeing the effects of Hurricane Harvey has been jarring for everyone. Thousands have been displaced from their homes – some never to return – and the rebuilding has only just begun.

There has been a lot of news on how few in Texas had flood insurance, but less attention of the more pressing national issue — the expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on September 30. This is an incredibly important program as disaster relief only covers a fraction of the expense many of these families now face.

To fill that gap between disaster and loss, there are many great initiatives through private entities, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. In an effort to to help, the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS®  donated $2,500 this week to the REALTORS Relief Fund of the National Association of REALTORS®. This fund is vitally important as there is no administrative costs and all proceeds go directly to helping victims of national disasters with housing needs. Beyond the association’s contribution itself, countless local REALTORS® have stepped up and made a contribution personally to the fund. You can make your own contribution, here.

As we seek to help Texas rebuild, we can not take our eye off of the September 30 deadline of the NFIP. While NFIP isn’t a household name, it is often the only flood insurance available. That’s important because if a property is in the 100 Year Floodplain, lenders will require flood insurance as part of the mortgage approval process. When the program lapses, the NFIP can’t issue new policies,or even renew existing ones. The last time Congress allowed that to happen, the National Association of Realtors® estimated that 40,000 home sales were at stake every month, not to mention the increased exposure for homeowners should a flood happen.

Flooding can occur as a result of storm surge, severe rain or even snow melt and, as we’ve seen in Texas and in other instances – hundreds of miles and sometimes thousands of miles away from oceans. It’s no surprise that over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP.

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket REALTORS® know that this is important. After all, if flood insurance isn’t available, we’re the ones who may have to tell clients that their home is off the table until NFIP is extended.

Congress should immediately pass the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” to strengthen the federal flood insurance program and ensure the program does not lapse. It is obvious we need flood insurance now more than ever.

Greg Murphy is the 2017 President of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS®.