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National Flood Insurance Program; Assistance to Private Sector Property Insurers

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AGENCY:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

Based on recent cost information, we (FEMA) are adjusting the expense allowance under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector insurers that sell and service flood insurance.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

October 1, 2001.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Edward L. Connor, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, 202-646-3443, (facsimile) 202-646-3445, (email) Edward.Connor@fema.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On May 10, 2001, we published at 66 FR 23874 a rule proposing to increase the “expense allowance” under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector insurers that sell and service flood insurance under the Write Your Own (WYO) program. (The “expense allowance” is a portion of the premiums charged for flood insurance policies that participating insurers sell under the WYO program.) The expense allowance is based on data for the property/casualty industry published, as of March 15 of the prior Arrangement year, in Part III of the Insurance Expense Exhibit in A.M. Best Company's Aggregates and Averages for five property coverages.

Based on our analysis of recent expense information from the companies, we believe that we should increase the current expense allowance under the Arrangement.

During the comment period, we received three sets of comments on the proposed rule. One respondent agreed with the rule as proposed. The other two respondents agreed with the proposed increase in the expense allowance. One of those however was disappointed that the proposed rule did not address marketing incentives, which are referred to in the Arrangement but not included in the Arrangement itself. The other recommended a change in the marketing incentives for larger WYO companies.

As has been our practice, we consulted during the past year with WYO company representatives on the marketing incentives. We are planning to liberalize those incentives for the coming year. Since the marketing incentives are outside the Arrangement proper and therefore outside the scope of this rulemaking, we will not make any adjustment to the rule as proposed.

One commenter also recommended that we consider increasing the unallocated loss adjustment expense allowance from its current 3.3%. That commenter also recommended that the expense allowance be linked directly to the individual WYO company's flood insurance expense as identified in the insurance expense exhibit of the annual statement. (The commenter recommended both these changes for the 2002-3 Arrangement Year.) We plan to review the entire system for reimbursing WYO companies, and we will look at both of those recommendations as part of that review. We are prepared to propose any appropriate changes during the next rulemaking cycle.

In summary, the rule increasing the expense allowance, as proposed, will be adopted as a final rule.

During August 2001, we will send a copy of the offer for the 2001-2002 Arrangement year, together with related materials and submission instructions, to all private insurance companies participating under the current 2000-2001 Arrangement. Any private insurance company not currently participating in the WYO program but wishing to consider FEMA's offer for 2001-2001 may request a copy by writing: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deputy Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, WYO Program, Washington, DC 20472.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

NEPA imposes requirements for considering the environmental impacts of agency decisions. It requires that an agency prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for “major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” If an action may or may not have a significant impact, the agency must prepare an environmental assessment (EA). If, as a result of this study, the agency makes a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), no further action is necessary. If it will have a significant effect, then the agency uses the EA to develop an EIS.

Categorical Exclusions. Agencies can categorically identify actions (for example, repair of a building damaged by a disaster) that do not normally have a significant impact on the environment. The purpose of this final rule is to adjust the expense allowance under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector insurers that sell and service flood insurance.

Accordingly, we have determined that this rule is excluded from the preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under 44 CFR 10.8(d)(2)(ii), where the rule is related to actions that qualify for categorical exclusion under 44 CFR 10.8(d)(2)(i), which addresses the preparation, revision, and adoption of regulations, directives, and other guidance documents related to actions that qualify for categorical exclusions. We have not prepared an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement as defined by NEPA.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review

We have prepared and reviewed this final rule under the provisions of E.O. 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review. Under Executive Order 12866, 58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993, a significant regulatory action is subject to OMB review and the requirements of the Executive Order. The Executive Order defines “significant regulatory action” as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:

(1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities;

(2) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

(3) materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

(4) raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order.

For the reasons that follow we have concluded that the final rule is neither an economically significant nor a significant regulatory action under the Executive Order. The rule adjusts the expense allowance under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector Start Printed Page 40917insurers that sell and service flood insurance. The adjustment increases by approximately $14 million the expense allowance paid to the WYO private sector insurers. It does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, the insurance sector, competition, or other sectors of the economy. It creates no serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency. It does not materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof. Nor does it raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order.

The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed this final rule under the principles of Executive Order 12866.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not contain a collection of information and is therefore not subject to the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act agencies must consider the impact of their rulemakings on “small entities” (small businesses, small organizations and local governments). When 5 U.S.C. 553 requires an agency to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Act requires a regulatory flexibility analysis for both the proposed rule and the final rule if the rulemaking could “have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” The Act also provides that if a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, the agency must certify in the rulemaking document that the rulemaking will not “have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

This final rule revises the NFIP regulations to adjust the expense allowance under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector insurers that sell and service flood insurance. Therefore, I certify that a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required for this rule because it will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

Executive Order 13132 sets forth principles and criteria that agencies must adhere to in formulating and implementing policies that have federalism implications, that is, regulations that have substantial direct effects on the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Federal agencies must closely examine the statutory authority supporting any action that would limit the policymaking discretion of the States, and to the extent practicable, must consult with State and local officials before implementing any such action.

We have reviewed this final rule under E.O.13132 and have determined that the rule does not have federalism implications as defined by the Executive Order. The rule adjusts the expense allowance under the Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement between the Federal Insurance Administrator and the private sector insurers that sell and service flood insurance. The rule in no way that we foresee affects the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or limits the policymaking discretion of the States.

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List of Subjects in 44 CFR Part 62

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Accordingly, we amend

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PART 62—SALE OF INSURANCE AND ADJUSTMENT OF CLAIMS

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1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.; Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, 43 FR 41943, 3 CFR, 1978 Comp., p. 329; E.O. 12127 of Mar. 31, 1979, 44 FR 19367, 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p.376.

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2. Revise the

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Appendix A to Part 62—Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Insurance Administration, Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement

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Effective Date: October 1, 2001.

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ARTICLE III—LOSS COSTS, EXPENSES, EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT, AND PREMIUM REFUNDS

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B. The Company may withhold as operating and administrative expenses, other than agents' or brokers' commissions, an amount from the Company's written premium on the policies covered by this Arrangement in reimbursement of all of the Company's marketing, operating, and administrative expenses, except for allocated and unallocated loss adjustment expenses described in C. of this article. This amount will equal the sum of the average of industry expense ratios for “Other Acq.”, “Gen. Exp.”, and “Taxes” calculated by aggregating premiums and expense amounts for each of five property coverages using direct premium and expense information to derive weighted average expense ratios. For this purpose, we (the Federal Insurance Administration) will use data for the property/casualty industry published, as of March 15 of the prior Arrangement year, in Part III of the Insurance Expense Exhibit in A.M. Best Company's Aggregates and Averages for the following five property coverages: Fire, Allied Lines, Farmowners Multiple Peril, Homeowners Multiple Peril, and Commercial Multiple Peril (non-liability portion). In addition, this amount will be increased by one percentage point to reimburse expenses beyond regular property/casualty expenses.

The Company may retain fifteen percent (15%) of the Company's written premium on the policies covered by this Arrangement as the commission allowance to meet commissions or salaries of their insurance agents, brokers, or other entities producing qualified flood insurance applications and other related expenses.

The amount of expense allowance retained by the Company may increase a maximum of two percentage points, depending on the extent to which the Company meets the marketing goals for the Arrangement year contained in marketing guidelines established pursuant to Article II.G. We will pay the company the amount of any increase after the end of the Arrangement year.

The Company, with the consent of the Administrator as to terms and costs, may use the services of a national rating organization, licensed under state law, to help us undertake and carry out such studies and investigations on a community or individual risk basis, and to determine equitable and accurate estimates of flood insurance risk premium rates as authorized under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended. We will reimburse the Company for the charges or fees for such services under the provisions of the WYO Accounting Procedures Manual.

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(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 83.100, “Flood Insurance”)

Dated: July 27, 2001.

Robert F. Shea,

Acting Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.

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[FR Doc. 01-19406 Filed 8-3-01; 8:45 am]

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