Commentary: Make flood insurance a priority

A truck plows through a flooded intersection on 19th Street in Costa Mesa after a storm.
(File Photo)

As a licensed real estate broker, I’ve had the pleasure assisting more than 1,000 individuals and families purchase a home, many of them first-time buyers. Since being elected to the Huntington Beach City Council, maintaining and expanding safe and strong neighborhoods has always remained one of my top priorities.

For most families, buying a home is the largest purchase they will ever make. Owning a home allows families to set down roots and build relationships with their neighbors, which often leads to further investment and engagement with their community. But buying a home requires a great deal of commitment and research.

When looking for a home, buyers consider dozens of issues, including their budget, property location, local schools and other important factors. A critical part of that process is working with a licensed real estate professional who provides mandatory disclosures that help to ensure homebuyers are given critical information related to their future home. In California, these disclosures include the hazards of lead-based paint, seismic safety and flooding.

While California requires disclosure related to flooding, that is not the case nationwide — and that is a problem for consumers, especially first-time homebuyers. Existing homeowners should occasionally check with their insurance agents to see if they are located in flood zone, as the zones can change. But all homebuyers should be entitled to information related to potential flood risk and previous damage when purchasing their future home.

In 1968, Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides property buyers with insurance protection against losses from flooding. But surprisingly, NFIP has continued to be extended without a requirement of flood risk disclosure. We have an opportunity to change this.

The House of Representatives recently failed to include these basic and simple consumer protections as part of their efforts to reauthorization NFIP. So now it’s up to the Senate.

All homebuyers, regardless of property location, should be entitled to know whether the home they are purchasing is subject to potential flood damage and when the property has a history flooding.

I urge California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to make flood disclosure a priority when considering NFIP re-authorization.

Barbara Delgleize is a member of the Huntington Beach City Council.