The U.S. Senate last night approved a temporary reauthorization of the federal flood insurance program until Sept. 30. The reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is retroactive to June 1, the date the program was halted.
The unanimous Senate vote sent the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature. The House had previously approved reauthorization.
Once President Obama signs the bill into law, the NFIP should return to normal operations, according to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”). Also, since the extension is retroactive, any new policy applications or renewals that were signed and submitted during the hiatus will be effective from the date of application or, in the case of waiting periods, the waiting period will start from the date of application.
The Big “I” said that while the resumption of the program is welcome, the spring lapse — the third time this year it has been forced to halt operations– has caused difficulties for homeowners and small businesses.
“It is alarming that the NFIP was allowed to remain expired for so long, causing so much confusion and potentially leaving desperate homeowners and small businesses unprotected for almost a month,” said Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “While the Big ‘I’ is appreciative of Congress extending the program on a temporary basis, we are also greatly concerned that these short expiration periods and patchwork of temporary extensions will negatively impact the market.”
The industry has urged Congress to enact a long term extension of the program.
“The hurricane season runs two months beyond the NFIP’s new Sept. 30 expiration date,” said Jimi Grande, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) senior vice president of federal and political affairs. “Congress must not let the program lapse again, but that’s just the minimum. The best thing they can do is take this time to pass legislation that would implement common sense reforms and help the NFIP make the first steps towards financial soundness.”
HR 5114, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is awaiting action by the House and would reauthorize the NFIP for five years.