Watch Kennedy question FEMA on flood insurance here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned David Maurstad, Senior Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about changes to the NFIP that could raise flood insurance rates for many Louisianians.
Key excerpts include:
“With respect to Risk Rating 2.0, I think you’re presiding over a tire fire. I think the rollout of Risk Rating 2.0 looks like a ferret fire drill.
“Here’s what I hear FEMA saying, ‘We created this program in 1968. FEMA has the authority to assign premiums. We, FEMA,’ I hear you saying, ‘all these years, have been doing it wrong. We’ve been assessing risk wrong. And now, we, FEMA, have had an epiphany. And we have figured out how to look at every individual property, out of all the properties of the United States of America, and assign the risk for that particular property. But we’re not going to tell you how we’re going to do it. In fact, we’re going to require the insurance companies who are implementing Risk Rating 2.0 to sign a gag order. We’re not going to promulgate a rule. We’re not going to allow for public comment. We’re just going to do it because we’re smarter than the people who pay the premiums and we’re smarter than the United States Congress.’
“Now, I need you to explain to the policyholders of America . . . because you’re not waiting—you’re going to pull the trigger in August. I need you to explain to them this epiphany that FEMA has had, and how, if you look at a particular property, you’re able now to assign with specificity and accuracy flood risk, when all these years you did it wrong. Tell me what you did wrong, and tell me now why it’s going to be accurate.”
. . .
“You’ve got some consultants, and they’ve developed models. I get that part. They haven’t been tested. You’ve done no rule. You’ve done no public comment. Nobody’s been allowed to weigh in. Policyholders have no idea what you’re talking about.
“You know what I’ve discovered about consultants in predicting the future? For every consultant, there’s an equal and opposite consultant, and oftentimes they’re both wrong. And a lot of them are—their accuracy is about as good as those late-night psychic hotlines on TV. And you’ve done this in secret, and it’s not right, and we don’t know if you’ve considered other alternatives.”
. . .
“In my state, we’re not talking about a bunch of wealthy homeowners who have a second and third beach house. These are working people. They get up every day. They go to work. They obey the law. They try to do the right thing by their kids. They try to save a little money for retirement. Their biggest investment is in their home, and now you’re doing this to them without explaining it to them?”
. . .
“You’ve got to explain why, Mr. Maurstad. There’s a lot of distrust of Washington. You’ve got to explain why. You can’t hide your consultants. You’ve got to be in front of God, and country, and policyholders—you’ve got to say, ‘This is the methodology. Now let’s test it through debate.’”
Kennedy urged Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in April to hold a hearing examining Risk Rating 2.0 and has spoken out against the new rating system on the Senate floor.
Watch Kennedy’s questioning of the FEMA executive here.