Tester’s plan to offer faster flood insurance in fire-charred areas passes Congress

Waiving 30-day wait period will allow individuals to adapt to changing conditions

(U.S. SENATE) – With wildfires burning hundreds of thousands of acres in Montana and quickly changing ground conditions, Congress today passed Senator Jon Tester’s plan to speed up the approval process for homeowners looking to insure their property against flood damage.

Large wildfires scorch land and trees, changing the makeup of soil and reducing its ability to absorb water, leading to dramatic runoff.  These changes often cause flooding when rains come soon after fires are extinguished.  But current law requires a 30-day waiting period before newly bought flood insurance goes into effect. 

Tester’s plan waives the 30-day waiting period for homeowners when flooding is caused by wildfire on public lands.  Homeowners must purchase flood insurance within 60 days of a fire to be eligible for the waiver.

Congress passed Tester’s measure when it passed his five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Both provisions now await the President’s signature.

“When fire and flood change our lands in drastic ways, insurers need to keep pace,” Tester said.  “The fires raging across Montana and the West show that homeowners need more certainty as they deal with catastrophic weather events, and my bill gives them that.”

Tester’s legislation comes as thousands of Montanans have been forced to evacuate their homes due to eight major fires across the state.

Tester this week called on Congress to give firefighters and forest managers the resources they need to reduce the risk of wildfires in high-risk states.

Tester has been a long-time advocate for reforming and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that protects Montana families living along lakes, rivers and streams. 

Tester’s bill to waive the 30-day plan is available online HERE.