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NFIP extended through Dec. 16; insurers call for long-term extension


WASHINGTON—Congress has approved another short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which was slated to lapse Friday.

The extension was part of a spending bill that was approved Thursday to fund federal government, including the NFIP, through Dec. 16.

The previous extension of six weeks was approved in October as part of stopgap funding bill.

Insurance groups, which have been pushing for a long-term extension, hailed Thursday's vote, but they stressed the need for a longer-term solution for the NFIP, which has been allowed lapse several times in recent years as the House and Senate wrangled over whether the program should also cover wind risks.

Although such an expansion of the NFIP no longer is an issue between the two chambers, the House and Senate have yet to agree on how the program should be reformed.

“Congress has thankfully avoided a lapse in the National Flood Insurance Program with the continuing resolution, but again we find ourselves waiting for real reform,” said Jimi Grande, senior vp-federal and political affairs in the National Assn. of Mutual Insurance Cos.' Washington office, in a statement. “This latest short-term extension is especially frustrating given how close reform legislation is to becoming law. The House has done their part by passing reform legislation with overwhelming, bipartisan support, and legislation in the Senate would be approved today if they'd only vote on it.”

"Continuing to maintain this vital program through short-term extensions is unacceptable,” he said. “As it stands, the program owes more than $18 billion to the taxpayers, and keeping the NFIP ‘as is' only risks adding to that burden."

"We're pleased the NFIP isn't going to lapse,” Tom Santos, vp-federal affairs at the Washington-based American Insurance Assn., said in a statement. “However, this will be the third short-term extension in as many months. More certainty is needed and as such, AIA encourages Congress to pass a long-term extension with meaningful reforms that aim to strengthen the program.”

Necessary reforms including moving to risk-based premiums and reducing price subsidies, Mr. Santos said. “The 5.6 million policyholders dependent upon the NFIP for their protection against floods deserve the peace of mind that a long-term extension of the program will provide.”

“We are pleased that Congress was able to avert another lapse in the flood program,” Tom Litjen, vp-federal government relations for Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America, said in a statement. “While we continue to urge a long-term reauthorization for the NFIP, our first priority is avoiding a program lapse.”

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