FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2006
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
(202) 226-7797

    

Rep. Davis Calls for Katrina Insurance Claim Investigation

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jim Davis spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of an amendment initiating an investigation into whether insurance companies have been shirking their duties when assessing damage claims from Hurricane Katrina.

 

Specifically, Rep. Gene Taylor’s amendment requires the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General to investigate Hurricane Katrina damage claims to determine whether insurance companies are improperly attributing damages to flooding instead of high winds.  Insurance companies are responsible for covering damage caused by windstorms, but damage from flooding is covered by the federally funded National Flood Insurance Program.

 

“At a time when storm-ravaged communities are struggling to rebuild, insurance companies should be stepping up to the plate for their paying customers, not shifting the burden to the American taxpayers,” said Congressman Davis. 

 

“Florida did not experience the widespread devastation that Hurricane Katrina delivered to New Orleans and elsewhere, but having weathered eight hurricanes in the last two years alone, Floridians share the same concerns as Katrina’s victims.  This amendment will help guarantee that insurance companies are meeting their responsibilities to all storm victims.”

 

The Taylor amendment was being offered to H.R. 4973, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act.  The amendment called on the Inspector General to report his findings to Congress no later than six months after the bill is signed into law.

 

Below is the text of Rep. Davis' speech on the House floor in support of the Taylor amendment.

 

Mr. DAVIS of Florida.

The National Flood Insurance Program is critical to our country, particularly those of us that live in the coastal States.  It is even more critical now because, as we have learned in Florida and in Mississippi and many States, we have entered a cycle of historic proportions in terms of hurricanes and hurricane damage.

 

The reason I rise is to speak in support of the Taylor amendment, which will be offered by Congressman Taylor of Mississippi, that calls for a study by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security into what I think is a growing crisis not just in Mississippi but now in Florida.

 

In Florida, the insurance industry recently succeeded in a session of the legislature in passing a law that repeals a 100-year-old law called the “value policy law." This loophole that has been created in Florida is resulting in hundreds, and I fear soon thousands, of Floridians sitting back and waiting to get paid by their insurance company and watching the flood insurer blame the wind insurer, and the wind insurer blame the flood insurer.

 

It is even worse in Mississippi, where one of our colleagues, Congressman Taylor, who is offering this amendment, is being forced, while serving as a Member of Congress, to sue his own insurance company. The same is true down at the other end of the Capitol, with Senator Trent Lott and at least one Federal judge.

 

This law in Mississippi, now the law in Florida, could become a law throughout the country; and we need to study this because I think the impact on the consumer will be devastating.

 

If you fly over Florida, which you and many of your constituents will do, now that it is summer vacation, you will still see thousands of blue tarps from a year ago from the last hurricanes. Every time you see one of those tarps, it represents a Floridian, a family who either cannot live in their home or is suffering water damage every time it rains. And it rains in Florida in the summertime.

 

This is not a Federal issue, at least yet; but it is a very important State issue to our constituents. The least we can do as a Congress is to support Congressman Taylor's very simple amendment to have this study done about the impact to the consumer of this loophole that has been created in Mississippi and now in Florida and perhaps other States. We need to be there to protect our constituents in a time of storm.