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5-year National Flood Insurance Program extension bill approved

5-year National Flood Insurance Program extension bill approved

WASHINGTON—Both houses of Congress have approved legislation that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program for five years.

The extension was contained in a transportation funding bill given final approval by both chambers on Friday. The bill extends the NFIP—which was slated to expire next month—until Sept. 30, 2017.

The measure also reforms the program through such actions as phasing out subsidies for many properties, raising the cap on annual premium increases to 20% from 10%, imposing minimum deductibles for flood claims, and requiring the NFIP administrator to develop a plan for repaying the debt incurred from Hurricane Katrina.

The bill also calls for creating a technical mapping advisory council to deal with map modernization issues.

The legislation also would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the prospect of adding business interruption and additional living expenses coverage to the NFIP, and would require the Federal Insurance Office to submit a report to Congress on natural disaster insurance issues and possible legislative solutions.

Industry groups hailed the action.

“We applaud Congress for making flood insurance a top priority this week,” said Ben McKay, senior vp-federal government relations in the Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America's Washington office, in a statement. “Bringing stability and certainty to the flood insurance program is critical for helping lead a long-term economic recovery and directly impacts the housing market. This is also major victory for the 5.6 million American home and business owners who rely on flood coverage.”

“A five year extension is of the utmost importance, as are the needed reforms to the program,” said Robert Rusbuldt, president and CEO of the Alexandria, Va.-based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, in a statement. “The Big 'I' strongly supports the legislation passed today and looks forward to the implementation of the many provisions that will help put the program on more solid financial footing.”

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