WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1, 2010 — The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) today commented on the most recent expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expired at 12:01 a.m. today after Congress left town for Memorial Day recess without acting on legislation that would extend the program.
“As forecasters prepare for what is expected to be a very active and potentially devastating hurricane season, it is alarming that the NFIP was allowed to expire yet again,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “Lapses in this program cause confusion and leave many homeowners and small businesses unprotected during a very dangerous time. The Big ‘I’ is also concerned that the uncertainty of temporary extensions and the numerous lapses that have already occurred in the last few months will negatively impact the market.”
The Big “I” strongly encourages Congress to act on a long term extension of this important program. The program has worked for more than 40 years to help protect consumers from flood risks, and Congress has traditionally extended the program for five year periods in order to provide stability and security for the marketplace. Unfortunately, Congress has recently begun a practice of only extending the program for short periods, from 30 days to six months, and these short term extensions and Congress’ failure to act on them on a timely basis have caused the program to now lapse twice this year alone.
“The series of temporary extensions, last minute actions and service lapses during such a delicate period in the American economy is troubling to agents, homeowners and small businesses,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “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 stop dropping the ball and to pass a long term extension of this critical program.”
Congress is not scheduled to reconvene until June 7, so the NFIP will be expired until at least that date. Stand-alone bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate to extend the program until the end of the year, but Congress has yet to consider these measures.
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.