“If we ever do need to borrow money, we’ll pay that debt back,” Mr. Pomeroy said. “There’s almost no potential that we’d ever default on our debt.”
The CEA argues this bill will save taxpayer dollars in the long run. When regional disasters strike, such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the government comes in and pays for the clean-up and the rebuilding of the city. The government, however, is not on the hook for homes already insured.
Critics say the government should not take on another expense, when there is already a big push to cut back on spending. Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, called the bill “out of step with the current mood of the government.”
“It appears it has no political traction on Capitol Hill,” he said.
Opponents also argue that cheaper earthquake insurance rates actually would encourage people to live in dangerous areas near fault lines, because they wouldn’t have to worry about the cost of rebuilding. That could ultimately lead to more claims.
“Insurance is a signal to people that their behavior is risky,” Ms. Minton said. “They’re living in neighborhoods that are dangerous. Insurance provides a financial incentive to make safer choices.”
CEA officials say their goal is not to make money, but to ensure that more homeowners are financially protected from quakes.
“We just need a little bit of help to do that,” Mr. Pomeroy said.