Flood Insurance for Homeowners is Up in the Air Again!

Senate Passes Another Short-Term NFIP Extension as Deadline Nears
BY ARTHUR D. POSTAL, PROPERTYCASUALTY360.COM
December 8, 2011
23
NU Online News Service, Dec. 8, 10:54 a.m. EST

The Senate last night unanimously passed legislation extending the National Flood Insurance Program until May 31, 2012.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La. According to officials at National Flood Services, Sen. John Tester, D-Montana, also played a key role in the extension.

The bill must still pass the House, which, according to RJ. Lehmann, deputy director of the Heartland Institute’s Washington unit, only wants to extend the program until March 31.

Unless extended by both the Senate and the House, the NFIP will expire Dec. 16, when its latest temporary reauthorization runs out.

“Given that the September before a presidential election is a particularly bad time for taking up floor legislation, an earlier expiration could actually aid the goal of getting a vote on a long-term reform bill sometime this coming spring,” Lehmann says.

Senate action on a long-term reauthorization that would extend the program until Sept. 30, 2016 is being held up because both Democrats and Republicans want to use the bill as a vehicle to get unrelated issues through a gridlocked Congress. Lehmann sees it as unlikely the Senate will act on the bill.

“Our priority is preventing another NFIP lapse,” says Tom Litjen vice president of federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. “More than 5.6 million home and business owners across the country rely on flood insurance, in every state. This is not just a coastal concern.”

Tom Santos, vice president for federal affairs at the American Insurance Association, says, “The six month extension…should allow Congress enough time to consider and pass a long-term extension with meaningful reforms that aim to strengthen the program. Necessary reforms include movement toward risk-based premiums and reduced price subsidies.”

Matt Gannon, assistant vice president of federal affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, says the extension “removes some short-term uncertainty from the NFIP but does nothing to enact the necessary reforms to the program.”

Gannon adds that flood-insurance reform is one of the very few bipartisan bill this Congress can actually pass so we continue to urge a Senate vote on the bill as soon as possible.”

John Prible, vice president of federal government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, says. “Provided the House also passes this needed extension, it is imperative that the Senate leadership then work to bring the long-term reform and extension bill to the full Senate floor for consideration to allow the House and Senate to reconcile their two bills.”

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