Long and heated evening hearings have begun in Olympia. On Wednesday night, in a three-hour long Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee hearing, Rep. Tina Orwall and many others discussed how hard it is for some businesses in the Green River Valley to get the flood insurance coverage they need. But Orwall has a solution.
“My bill would stabilize the market and ensure that our businesses in the Kent Valley have access to supplemental insurance that provides needed flood coverage, which in most cases exceeds what the National Flood Insurance Program provides,” explained Orwall. “We must move quickly on this bill to protect our area from an economic crisis caused by the potential threat of flooding.”
The feds do offer subsidized homeowners and businesses flood insurance, but the coverage limits for businesses are capped at $500,000 for a building, and $500,000 for its contents. So if your business is worth more than that, you have to get additional insurance. This is normally not an issue, but if your business happens to be located in an area prone to significant flooding, good luck finding someone that will sell you that surplus coverage.
HB 2560 would authorize the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to enact a Joint Underwriting Authority (JUA) for excess flood insurance. The JUA would act as a non-profit last-resort insurance to provide the surplus coverage that businesses in the flood plain can’t get anywhere else.
Orwall’s is one of three bills this session that address the issue of floods in our state. The other two (HB 2786 and HB 2787) are sponsored by Rep. Chris Hurst. They would strengthen emergency response and get funding for flood control and relocation of displaced citizens.
It rains a lot in Washington and many areas are at risk of flooding every year. In fact, right now it’s pouring and we’re expecting more rain over the next week that is and will continue to cause flooding. These bills could really make a difference for many folks in our state.