Congress reinstates national flood insurance program

Congress reinstates national flood insurance program

 The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday night to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30, following a similar move by the House last week. President Barack Obama still needs to sign the legislation that would reinstate the program retroactively to June 1, when the program last lapsed.

 It was the third lapse in the program this year.

Congress failed to extend the National Flood Insurance Program which expired on May 30, 2010.  Hammering an already battered industry, many homeowners were unable to purchase new flood insurance policies, or renew existing policies, under the Federal program. As a result, many home buyers have been unable to close on their home purchases, especially in areas where private insurance is not available. In addition, those who had insurance in force could not be paid for a claim.

A longer-term bill that would extend the currently debt ridden flood insurance program through 2015 is still being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., proposed a bill in April that would, among other things, allow the government to charge higher rates for residents in areas with a higher risk of flooding. It also would increase coverage limits for policies issued under the program.

Members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, including Iowa Insurance Commission Susan Voss, sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday urging Congress to “consider the effects of the NFIP lapse on consumers trying to close on homes located in high-risk flood areas.”

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