The November 2 election results show that American voters—even those most at risk of being struck by hurricanes—simply don’t desire a government takeover of property insurance markets, says the national director of The Heartland Institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate.
In Tuesday’s voting, both Gene Taylor (D–Mississippi 4) and Ron Klein (D–Florida 22) lost their seats in Congress, to Republicans Steven Palazzo and Alan West, respectively. Taylor had proffered the Multi-Peril Insurance Act (H.R. 1264), which would have added wind coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program, while Klein had been the lead sponsor of the Homeowners’ Defense Act (H.R. 2555), which would have established a national catastrophe consortium and allowed the U.S. Treasury to make loans to state catastrophe funds.
“Voters made it clear: They don’t want—or need—a government takeover of property insurance markets,” said Eli Lehrer, national director of Heartland’s Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate. “Both Rep. Taylor’s district and Rep. Klein’s district are places where hurricanes are major problems. Both men waged passionate efforts for their bills. But voters rejected them. This is a big win for taxpayers, the environment, and common sense.”
Lehrer says the elections demonstrate a rejection of government-run property insurance, rather than a simple side effect of the Republican wave. “Both Klein and Taylor tried to make government-run property insurance a campaign centerpiece. In fact, Taylor’s wind bill was the only serious, substantive piece of legislation he introduced or cosponsored in the 111th Congress. Voters saw what Klein and Taylor were selling, and they decided they didn’t want to buy it.”
According to Lehrer, the next Congress will likely take a much different tack on catastrophe issues. “We’re certainly going to see a major push to reauthorize the flood insurance program and, in a Congress sure to face lots of partisan wrangling, this is one place where Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together,” said Lehrer. “I’d also hope we’ll see some movement on some type of market-oriented, national, property mitigation strategy.”