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NFIP gets brief extension; insurance industry remains concerned

NFIP gets brief extension; insurance industry remains concerned

WASHINGTON—The National Flood Insurance Program got a short extension Thursday when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a stopgap funding measure to keep the federal government operating through next Tuesday.

The Senate voted earlier to extend the NFIP, which was slated to lapse Friday, through Nov. 18. The full House, however, cannot consider the longer Senate funding bill until next Tuesday.

In addition, the House has passed a measure that would extend the NFIP for five years, but the full Senate has yet to approve its own version.

Insurer groups remain concerned about the program's long-term prospects.

“We have avoided an NFIP lapse this week but will face more uncertainty on Tuesday,” Ben McKay, senior vp of the Des Plaines, Ill.-based Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America's Washington office, said in a statement after Thursday's House vote. “PCI is pleased that the House agreed to a short-term compromise to prevent a government shutdown and an NFIP lapse. We are hopeful that the House will pass the Nov. 18 extension on Tuesday.”

“Our top priority is avoiding an NFIP lapse,” said Mr. McKay. “Moving into October, negotiations continue over the Senate's Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act that includes a five-year NFIP extension,” he said.

“PCI is pushing for Senate floor consideration next month. If the Senate passes its bill, lawmakers will need to reconcile the differences with H.R. 1309, the House legislation that passed in July,” said Mr. McKay.

When Congress goes back into session in October, “we hope there is a window of opportunity on the Senate's floor schedule to move a bill forward, but it's too soon to tell if that will happen,” said a spokesman for the Washington-based American Insurance Assn.

In a statement, Matt Gannon, assistant vp of federal affairs in the Indianapolis-based National Assn. of Mutual Insurance Cos.' Washington office, said the House and Senate “are very close to passing a bipartisan flood insurance reform bill that will help reduce the need for future disaster aid.” The NFIP “needs to more closely resemble a private insurance model, thus reducing the underfunded risk exposure to the taxpayers,” he said. Both the House and Senate bills “take major steps towards achieving this end,” he said.

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