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Highlights

According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), 90 percent of all natural disasters in the United States involve flooding. Because of the catastrophic and unpredictable nature of floods, private insurance companies do not typically cover flood losses. Congress established the NFIP in 1968 to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance in response to the escalating costs of repairing flood damage. During congressional hearings on provisions of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, several legislators testified on NFIP shortcomings, as reported by constituents whose properties had been flooded by Hurricane Isabel in September 2003. The act required GAO to study coverage provided under the NFIP. It also required the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the administrator of the NFIP, to take steps to address concerns about coverage and claims procedures. Today's testimony is based on work in progress to address this mandate. It provides preliminary information on (1) the types of coverage limits, restrictions, and exclusions under the NFIP; (2) how FEMA, in partnership with private insurers, manages and oversees the NFIP and the views of selected private sector program managers on how the program is working; and (3) the status of FEMA's efforts to comply with provisions of the Flood Insurance Reform Act.

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