Rethink flood insurance

Authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program expires Sept. 30. Between now and then, lawmakers either will have to renew the existing system or devise something better.

That may not seem difficult. The program is deeply flawed. But members of Congress have known that for years and, to date, have merely kicked the can down the creek, so to speak.

For some property owners, especially along seacoasts, the system has become something of an entitlement. It provides them insurance at a fraction of the cost of their actual risk.

Because of that, the NFIP has required massive subsidies. Technically, it owes the U.S. Treasury more than $25 billion, though that never will be paid.

An attempt to get the program back on dry fiscal ground was made through the infamous Biggert-Waters Act. It kicked in about four years ago and thousands of Ohio homeowners were informed their flood insurance premiums were skyrocketing. Inundated by complaints, Congress took temporary steps to provide some relief.

Meanwhile, the NFIP is under water and premiums remain unrealistic.

Private-sector insurance — except, of course, when under government orders in situations such as the Affordable Care Act — charges premiums based solely on risk. It has been suggested the NFIP should be privatized.

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