House Joins Senate in Extending Flood Insurance for 1 Year

October 4, 2010

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have both approved a one-year reauthorization of the nation’s flood insurance program.

The measure, S. 3814, will extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until Sept. 30, 2011. As of press time the measure was set to go to President Obama for his signature.The program would have expired on Sept. 30.

The vote leaves for the future any reforms of the program, which is $18 billion in debt.

But the insurance industry welcomed the extension after several years of lapses and short term rescues. This year alone, Congress allowed the program to lapse four times. During these lapses, new flood insurance policies could not be written, and thousands of real estate closings in flood-prone regions were delayed.

The latest one-year extension (S. 3814) was sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and co-sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Tex., Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“While we are pleased that Congress passed the one-year extension, there is still work to be done in the 112th Congress,” said David Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers of America. “With over $18 billion in debt, the NFIP is a program that needs meaningful reform and a long-term reauthorization.”

The reauthorization will ensure that the NFIP will be there for the final two months of this year’s hurricane season and much of next year’s as well, noted Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for NAMIC.

“It will not, however, fix the problems with the NFIP itself. The program is financially unsustainable and failing to address that only makes the problem worse for homeowners, insurers and the American taxpayers,” Grande said.

Blain Rethmeier, a spokesman for the American Insurance Association, expressed a similar view.

“A one year extension gives Congress the time necessary to debate the more fundamental reforms the program needs. But between now and then, homeowners living in flood-prone areas will have the stability, protection, and peace of mind to go on with their lives,” he said.

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Insurance Journal West October 4, 2010
October 4, 2010
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