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Flood insurance vote cheers industry leaders

Insurance industry figures welcomed the news Wednesday that the U.S. House had voted overwhelmingly to temporarily reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, just about one week before it was to expire.

Nat Wienecke, senior vice president of federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, issued a public statement.

“PCI is pleased the House passed legislation to protect consumers and continue the National Flood Insurance Program without a lapse,” he said.

“This four-month extension provides homeowners and businesses with certainty through hurricane season. However, PCI and our members urge Congress to pass a long-term bill with reforms that will provide more consumer options and greater financial stability to the NFIP.”

The organization represents 1,000 insurance companies nationally. The vote to reauthorize was 366-52, according to published accounts. The measure heads next to the Senate.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier also welcomed the development.

“With the recent rain that moved through portions of Florida and regions along the Atlantic coast this past week, we have been reminded that flooding can occur at a moment’s notice,” he said. “As conversations surrounding the NFIP continue, my office will continue looking for ways to ensure Floridians insurance needs remain at the forefront.”

The state has been encouraging insurers to offer coverage outside the federal program. The number of insurers allowed to offer such coverage increased by 30 percent between June 2017 and the end of March this year, Altmaier’s office said, and the number of policies issued by about 50 percent — and usually at priced lower than the feds offer.

Critics wanted to include reforms intended to put the federal program on better financial footing — it’s running a debt of about $20 billion. As approved, the bill would put off talk about the bigger picture at least until November, the traditional end of hurricane season.

Earlier, organizations with stakes in the housing market, including the National Association of Realtors along with the National Association of Home Builders, the American Bankers Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent Congress a letter warning that allowing the program to lapse would harm U.S. communities.

“A lapse of the NFIP, especially during the height of hurricane season, will leave millions of Americans at risk and result in severe disruption in the over 20,000 communities across the United States that depend on the NFIP,” they wrote.

“Furthermore, a lapse in the NFIP may slow down recovery efforts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and other States impacted by the devastating 2017 hurricane season by making it harder for disaster assistance recipients to satisfy flood insurance requirements.”


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