WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 8 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) today praised members of the House of Representatives for quick approval of legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that has been on hiatus in the New Year.
“The House of Representatives did the right thing today by addressing an oversight from the last Congress and passing the essential flood reauthorization bill on an expedited schedule and in a bipartisan manner,” says IIABA CEO Bob Rusbuldt. “This immediate action taken today by the House to retroactively reauthorize a critical program relied upon by more than four million consumers is essential for the economy to grow, especially in the homebuilding, real estate and financial services sectors.”
The bill—the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (HR 11)—was offered by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and considered using a procedure called suspension of rules that permits expedited debate and a vote on a bill on the House floor. The legislation was approved by a voice vote.
Procedural oversights by government officials left the NFIP unauthorized for the start of 2003. Currently, no new flood insurance policies can be written and no coverage changes or renewals can be approved on existing policies until the reauthorization of the program is signed into law.
The legislation introduced Jan. 7 by Oxley and Frank extends the program’s authority retroactively to Dec. 31, 2002 to cover any breaks in coverage resulting from the program’s temporary lapse.
“IIABA strongly commends Reps. Oxley and Frank for recognizing that the longer this program lapse continues the more serious the problems will become for homeowners whose policies were not issued or renewed before the end of 2002,” says IIABA Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Maria Berthoud. “Any long-term disruptions to policyholders, homeowners, community bankers, independent insurance agents and the real estate marketplace would be devastating.”
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. 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 Senate is expected to consider the House bill as early as Thursday. “IIABA has been assured by leadership in the Senate that they will take action on the House bill now that it has been passed,” says Rusbuldt. “The Senate needs to act quickly and get this bill to the President’s desk. This is no time to let problems linger and inconvenience Americans.”
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.
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