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House bill would extend flood insurance program


WASHINGTON—A bill that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program through March 31, 2010, was introduced in the House on Thursday.

The program is slated to expire on Sept. 30 under a previous temporary extension. The House and Senate passed separate extension bills in the last Congress but failed to reach agreement on whether the program should be expanded to include windstorm coverage. A bill that would require the plan to offer windstorm coverage was introduced in the House by Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., in March.

Expanding the program to include windstorm coverage is opposed by most of the insurance industry. Thursday’s extension bill, introduced by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., provides for a straightforward extension without adding windstorm coverage.

Insurer trade groups hailed the latest bill.

“Expiration of the program, which would happen in September without an extension, could have dire consequences for policyholders and for the nation’s economy in general,” David A. Sampson, president of the Des Plaines, Ill.-based Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America, said in a statement.

“While this extension does not fix the NFIP’s problems, it does help those living in flood-prone areas by making sure coverage continues to be available,” Leigh Ann Pusey, president of the Washington-based American Insurance Assn., said in statement. “A short-term extension to keep the federal flood program in place is the most prudent action for Congress to take.”