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State looks to private market as Congress adjourns without flood fix

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By Gary Rohrer

Florida lawmakers want private property insurance companies to come to the rescue of coastal homeowners who will be hit with skyrocketing flood insurance rates at the end of the month.

Congress adjourned Thursday without passing legislation to postpone National Flood Insurance Program rate increases involved in the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act that are set to take effect in two weeks, when the calendar turns to 2014. The rate hikes are the result of a phasing out of subsidies for coastal areas in light of a $24 billion shortfall for the NFIP.

When state lawmakers began casting about for solutions this fall, a state-level alternative to the NFIP was mentioned, but only as a backstop if private companies wouldn’t step into the gap left by the federal program.

That looks unlikely because legislators are set to ease companies into the new flood market.