The Jan. 20 article regarding the National Flood Insurance Program correctly highlighted the devastating impact a lapse in the program can have on Louisiana’s housing market, but it failed to mention that Congress could avoid this situation if residents were not held hostage to the NFIP.

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More than 500,000 property owners in Louisiana rely on the NFIP for flood coverage because it is essentially the only policy mortgage lenders can accept to meet mandatory purchase requirements. But with the program drowning in debt and struggling to remain viable, changes must be made to give residents alternative options to the NFIP while ensuring the program’s financial sustainability.

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People line up at the Corpus Christi-Epiphany Community Center for information on flood recovery resources for flood-affected residents and businesses in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. A National Flood Insurance Program specialist and local organizations like Catholic Charities, the Cajun Navy, the St. Bernard Project, and other programs offered information and aid.

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To do that, the Senate should advance a proposal previously passed in the House that simply clarifies that homeowners can purchase coverage through the NFIP or private sector. The move would provide policyholders with more choices, better rates and higher coverage limits. It would also ensure that consumers have ongoing access to flood insurance even if the NFIP were temporarily unavailable because private insurers are not reliant on the federal government to write or renew policies.

Approximately 1,330 homes sales are delayed or canceled each day the NFIP lapses. With the risk of another lapse, Louisianan’s should urge their representatives to quickly advance this critical reform.

Frank Nutter

Reinsurance Association of America

Washington, D.C.