As we previously reported here, last week the U.S. Senate failed to reinstate the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”). In a later vote, however, the Senate passed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (the “Act”) by a vote of 60 to 40. As previously reported, the Act also includes extensions of unemployment benefits and COBRA health care insurance benefits.
After the Senate passed the Act, it was returned to the House for a new vote because the Act was amended by the Senate to extend the expiration dates for the various programs from the end of April to the end of May. The Act passed in the House by a 289-112 vote. President Obama signed the Act into law shortly thereafter. The reinstatement of the NFIP is retroactive to March 28, 2010 and authorizes the NFIP through May 31, 2010.
Although industry groups are happy with the reinstatement of the NFIP, they remain frustrated by the short-term extensions as such extensions cause uncertainty in the market. Charles Symington, the senior vice president of government affairs of The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, stated: “Though we are grateful that Congress extended this program, we are increasingly frustrated by these repeated one-month extensions and the periods of expiration that sometimes result from them.” David A. Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), stated: “We are pleased that Congress made this a priority upon returning from recess this week…But these short putts down a long fairway set a dangerous precedent that leaves homeowners vulnerable. We need a long-term, sustainable solution to the flood program.”
The American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010, H.R. 4213, which would extend the NFIP and other programs through Dec. 31, 2010, is currently waiting on conference between senators and representatives to work out differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill.