James Lee Witt, former FEMA director and co-chair of ProtectingAmerica.org, told the members of the Task Force on Long-Term Solutions for Florida’s Hurricane Insurance Market on Thursday that there is an urgent need for a comprehensive, national response mechanism for catastrophes that would include a national catastrophe fund.
“Given what the nation has experienced within the last two hurricane seasons, the time is right to create a comprehensive, national response mechanism for mega-catastrophes, such as hurricanes earthquakes and other significant natural disasters,” said Witt.
“Florida has made great strides, such as the creation of the Florida Catastrophe fund to provide consumers protections against future losses, but much more needs to be done,” he continued. “It is necessary to support a national backstop that will allow for rebuilding, better coordination with local, state, and federal mitigation and recovery efforts and strengthen emergency response to further protect Floridians and all Americans before the next catastrophe strikes.
“Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite and Congressman Clay Shaw should be commended for their leadership in keeping Florida’s consumers safe. I hope that other members of the Florida congressional delegation join in this effort to support a federal program that better safeguards our country from catastrophe. Commissioner McCarty and Governor Bush should also be commended for calling for comprehensive reform that includes a national backstop.
“Beyond helping to insure for monetary losses, state and federal catastrophe funds will improve the way America is prepared and protected from catastrophe. ProtectingAmerica.org’s solution calls for new programs and processes that would speed relief, recovery and rebuilding,” Witt said.
The Task Force on Long-Term Solutions for Florida’s Hurricane Insurance Market was created in 2005 by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to assess the state’s current insurance status. The group held its “Preparing for and Protecting America from Catastrophe” hearings on Jan. 18 and 19 at the Florida International University Biscayne Bay Campus.
Witt was the final speaker at the two-day hearings that discussed details of a national catastrophe fund. The task force is examining problems for Florida’s insurance market and will offer solutions to the state legislature.
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