Despite grass-roots pressure, efforts to delay or scale back the steep premium increases in the FEMA-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) haven't made any progress in Congress this year. But as the price for NFIP coverage—currently the only game in town—goes through the roof, some in coastal states are saying it might be time to let private firms offer an alternative.

In Florida, state representative Jeff Brandes is proposing legislation that would make it easier for private companies to offer flood insurance in the state, according to a report in the Daytona Beach News-Journal (see: "Legislators taking up flood insurance issue," by  Lloyd Dunkelberger).

The Flood Insurance Agency of Gainesville already offers flood insurance for Florida homeowners, and Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of Tampa has been approved to start offering flood policies in January. "Brandes said he believes many other insurers would consider the market based on the fact that Floridians have received only $1 in claims for every $4 paid into the federal flood insurance program since its inception in 1978," the News-Journal reports. "When you see those types of numbers we understand that companies can come in to Florida and provide a great service, be profitable, be actuarially sound and can try to mitigate some of these onerous rates," Brandes said. Brandes' proposed legislation would open up legal avenues for insurance companies to provide flood coverage within the "residential surplus lines insurance" market, which is not as regulated as the standard insurance market.