Changing the Rules to Put Families First

By Shannon Duffy

ACTION ALERT!  Please sign our petition by clicking here.  The battle is on again over the future of our National Flood Insurance Program.  Does it put big insurance and banks first? Price families out of protection? Or does it put us and preparation first?  

On July 16th Senator Menendez (D-NJ) along with the NJ state delegation & Bi-partisan co-sponsors (it’s an interesting bunch! Read more here.) announced comprehensive legislation, NFIP-Re, that would continue the flood insurance program with key reforms. Here are a few highlights. 

  • The NFIP-RE caps premium payments at 9% and allows policyholders to pay monthly instead of once a year & creates additional programs to help make insurance affordable.
  • Increases ICC funding to $60,000, makes it easier to use that funding before a disaster and also provides $2 billion a year for individual and community mitigation efforts.
  • Caps payouts to the private insurance companies – WYO (Write your Own)- who administer the program. And creates a penalty when they underpay families and try to cheat them like they did in Sandy. 
  • Funds accurate Flood Maps so everyone can understand if they’re at risk.  

The NFIP-RE Act is vital to making the program work for policyholders and taxpayers.Every dollar invested in mitigation saves $4-$6 in disaster relief money- so it’s a win for all of us. NFIP-RE takes critical measures to ensure flood insurance is fair to policyholders. Eliminating the bad actors responsible for fraudulent engineering reports and underpayment, granting policyholders the right to collect attorney fees and shifting lawsuits to the DOJ to defend are a giant leap forward in leveling the playing field so unscrupulous insurance companies and their contractors can not take advantage of disaster survivors on our dime.  Click here to sign our petition for a fair and affordable NFIP. Thanks for taking action.

What we’ve been up to:

This year, NJOP leaders brought our agenda to our state and federal lawmakers.  Learn more below about how we’re putting families first in DC and Trenton.  

Putting families first in DC

NJOP members and leaders met with 7 Congressional Rep’s offices this year: Rep. Kim (CD3), Rep. Malinowski (CD11), Rep. Smith (CD4), and Rep. Watson-Coleman (CD12), Rep. Van Drew (CD2), Congressman Frank Pallone (CD6), and Congressman Bill Pascrell (CD9).

Congressman Andy Kim (D3)

All seven of these Representatives signed on to be a part of our delegation fighting for clawback forgiveness. Clawback forgiveness and reduction are critical for Sandy families and frontline communities facing future disaster. Under Governor Murphy, we have taken an important first step and achieved a freeze on clawbacks. We believe by working together we can change this unfair and outdated set of rules that hurts storm survivors. We’d like to see SBA loans not be counted as a duplication of benefits – a law just passed last year that made that the case for disasters from 2016 on, but not us – we believe we should see that same relief. In addition – we’d like the federal government to consider hardship when they look at ICC funding and duplication of benefits. The bottom line is people did everything they could to hold on, got bad information from advisors or even FEMA, or were confused in a time of crisis.

Congressman Van Drew (D2)

In 2019, we launched our work to end overdose and expand access to evidence-based treatment for ALL. In June, we were invited by Congressman Andy Kim to speak on a panel on the opioid crisis devastating our communities. Our families and our loved ones deserve real solutions to end this crisis and we’re standing up and speaking out to make them happen. 

Our region is impacted by flooding during high tides or bad rain storms. More families have lost cars, homes and jobs to flooding since Sandy and subsequent storms. It’s high time we take action to mitigate the flooding we are facing. Along with fighting for a fair and affordable NFIP, We believe Offshore Wind, not Offshore Drilling will best help to mitigate flooding long term and are working to imagine community benefits from this hopefully growing industry. 

Putting Families First in Trenton:  

We’ve had a team of members pushing our Families First agenda in Trenton. NJOP met with state elected officials Senator Vin Gopal (D11), Senator Brown (D2), and Senator Connors, Assemblyman Rumpf, and Assemblywoman Gove (all D9) – and testified in front of two committees. 

Senator Connors, Assemblyman Rumpf, and Assemblywoman Gove (D9)

Just nine days before the foreclosure and forbearance protections for Sandy families were set to expire, we were able to extend them for 3 more years! We brought our member’s stories to Trenton, 600 of you signed petitions, and you called legislators and shared your stories. Click here to read more about the families who stood up and spoke out to make a difference for all of us. 

Next up in Trenton, we are pushing for legislation to protect consumers from contractor fraud & insurance fraud. Click here to read the story of one of our leaders. 

For economic security & dignity work, we talked to our legislators about the overdose crisis, how it’s impacting our communities, and the need for more access to evidence-based treatment for people struggling with addiction especially people on Medicaid and without insurance.

We are in conversation with our legislators about offshore wind and what it can bring to New Jersey. We want to make sure this brings good things for our communities, like job opportunities and reducing our risk of flooding due to sea level rise.

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