Congressman Denver Riggleman is Trying to Revamp the National Flood Insurance Program

Mar 13, 2019

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

This week is Flood Insurance Awareness Week, and Congress is responding by taking a look at how flood insurance works — and sometimes doesn’t work.

Congressman Denver Riggleman isn’t just a freshman Republican lawmaker on the Financial Services Committee considering a revamp to the National Flood Insurance Program. He also has a personal stake in the issue.

“So I own a distillery. It has about 400 barrels of bourbon and whiskey in it, and there are a lot of structures like that in the Fifth District that are allowed to be built for special use and it’s really not defined exactly what it is in terms of residential or commercial,” says Riggleman.

Not residential or commercial — a gray area for agricultural structures in special flood hazard zones. Testifying before the Financial Services Committee, Mabel Guzman at the National Association of Realtors says the way flood insurance is structured doesn’t make sense for much of rural Virginia.

“The policy, the way it is right now, you have to have a policy on each and every building that you have on your land, which is ridiculous because it should really be based on your survey so that you cover comprehensively, completely, even on residential homes,” says Guzman.

Riggleman interrupts. “Ma’am you’re in my head."

“All right. So send me bourbon,” says Guzman.

“Yes ma’am,” Riggleman replies.

Hopefully that bottle will be delivered before the end of May, when the National Flood Insurance Program expires. That’s the deadline for Congress to take action to modernize the program, potentially changing how flood insurance works for agricultural structures in flood hazard zones.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.