Senate Agrees with House to Renew Flood Insurance Program for 4 Months

Congress avoided a lapse in the federal flood insurance program when the Senate today voted 86-12 to extend authorization for the program by four months to Nov. 30.

The National Flood Insurance Program would have expired at the end of today had the Senate not acted.

The House also voted last week to temporarily reauthorize the program.

President Trump is expected to sign the reauthorization before the program lapses.

The reauthorization does not include any reforms to the program.

Despite years of debate and proposals to reform the program, reforms have stalled. Instead, Congress has passed six short-term extensions of the program. Lawmakers also let the program lapse in 2017 and 2018.

The House passed legislation with reforms more than a year ago; the Senate has yet to do so.

Some in the insurance industry are concerned that Congress may again let the program lapse after this latest renewal and continue to postpone reforms.

“A lapse in the NFIP during the height of hurricane season could impact the ability of the program to promptly pay claims if there is a major flooding event, delay recovery efforts related to the catastrophic 2017 storm season and disrupt real estate markets across the country,” said Jennifer Webb, federal affairs counsel for the Big “I” independent agents association. She said the Big “I” supports a “long-term extension of a modernized NFIP” that would increase flood insurance buyers in both the NFIP and in the private insurance market.

“Congress has avoided disaster by passing this extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, but simply kicking the can down the road is not a solution,” said Jimi Grandi, senior vice president, Government Affairs, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. “The problems with the NFIP are well known, and a four-month extension amid the politics of the midterm elections does not inspire much hope for meaningful reform that would provide needed stability for the NFIP and the millions of policyholders who rely on the program,”

There are 5.2 million NFIP policies in force.