WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 26 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) urges any consumer seeking a new flood insurance policy and those among the nation’s 4.4 million flood insurance policyholders seeking coverage changes or renewals in January to pay their premiums now in order to avoid potential problems later.
Procedural oversights by government officials have left the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) unauthorized for the start of 2003.
“It is vital for consumers to get flood insurance premium payments or applications for new policies to their insurance agents on or before December 31 to ensure they still have flood insurance protection in the New Year,” explains IIABA CEO Bob Rusbuldt. “While IIABA and many other national flood insurance program advocates are urging lawmakers to address this issue immediately in the new Congress, a lapse in the NFIP is imminent and could cause serious problems for homeowners whose policies are not issued or renewed before the end of this year.”
The NFIP interruption primarily concerns property owners who need to renew policies in January; home-buyers who must purchase flood insurance as a condition for obtaining mortgages from federally regulated lenders; and property owners refinancing existing mortgages who need to purchase or renew such coverage. “If you are planning to close on your house in early January, make sure you pay your flood insurance premiums now. Otherwise, this situation may complicate those plans,” reminds Rusbuldt.
Insurance companies issue flood policies as part of the NFIP under an arrangement with the federal government. The NFIP operates under authority from Congress that has to be renewed periodically. The 107th Congress adjourned without reauthorizing the program for next year, meaning authority to issue new policies, policy renewals or increased coverage on existing policies expires Dec. 31 at midnight. The NFIP will then be on hiatus until the 108th Congress convenes in January and can pass legislation to reauthorize it.
IIABA applauds House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) for announcing that they jointly will offer legislation the first day the new Congress convenes (Jan. 7) and make NFIP reinstatement one of the first issues addressed by lawmakers. The draft bill would extend the program’s authority retroactively to Dec. 31 to cover any breaks in coverage that result from the program’s temporary lapse.
“Immediate reauthorization is essential to averting any long-term disruptions to policyholders, homeowners, independent insurance agents and the real estate marketplace,” says Rusbuldt. “While Congress seems amenable to quickly rectifying the situation, there are never any guarantees. Consumers need to take precautions and ensure flood insurance coverage by simply paying their premiums or applying for new policies prior to the end of the year. You don’t want to put yourselves at the mercy of Congressional action.”
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.
# # #