WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2010 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) today commented on the latest short term extension, until May 31, 2010, of several programs including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
A few weeks ago, the Senate left town for the Easter recess without voting on extending the NFIP, thereby resulting in the program’s expiration. The House had previously approved, by unanimous consent, a $9 billion measure containing one-month extensions of several programs including unemployment insurance, COBRA subsidies for health benefits and flood insurance. Senate leaders of both parties hoped to have their chamber approve the same bill before the Easter break, but Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) objected to the House bill saying it was not funded. A similar scenario occurred in early March.
“It is alarming that the NFIP was allowed to expire, causing so much confusion and potentially leaving desperate homeowners and small businesses unprotected for more than two weeks,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “The Big ‘I’ is greatly concerned that these short expiration periods, coupled with the uncertainty of temporary extensions, will negatively impact the market.”
In theory, the NFIP will now return to normal operations and, since the extension is also retroactive, then any new policy applications or renewals that were signed and submitted during the hiatus will be effective from the date of application (or in the case of waiting periods, the waiting period will start from the date of application).
“This series of temporary extensions, last minute actions and service lapses during such a delicate period in our economy is of great concern to our agents, homeowners and small businesses,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “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. The National Flood Insurance Program is meant to provide some level of stability and protection for homeowners and businesses against dangerously unpredictable and costly flooding events, not to be an unpredictable ‘here one minute-gone the next’ program subject to monthly congressional action. The Big ‘I’ strongly urges Congress to pass a long term extension of this critical program.”
In the 110th Congress, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization (FIRM) Act of 2007 made progress in the House and Senate. The legislation would have extended the program for five years and made significant and needed reforms to help put the program on sound financial footing. This summer, similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” 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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.