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PIA Grassroots Action Alert: Flood Program Extension Hits a Snag in Congress

PIA National has announced a Grassroots Action Alert regarding the National Flood Insurance Program. Extension of the NFIP is once again in jeopardy, with NFIP...
February 18, 2010

PIA National has announced a Grassroots Action Alert regarding the National Flood Insurance Program. Extension of the NFIP is once again in jeopardy, with NFIP set to expire February 28 - and Congress not scheduled to be in session until next week.

Please click here to send a customizable letter to your Members of Congress with the message: "Please vote to renew the flood insurance program:"

Here's what's happened:  Authorization for another extension of the NFIP was headed for approval, but now it's been derailed. The NFIP extension was to have been attached to a major jobs bill in the Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the bill and replaced it with a smaller jobs bill that does not contain the flood program extension.

This scenario has been repeated many times over the past two years. Currently, the NFIP is operating on its fourth extension since its authorization originally expired September 30, 2009. These extensions have been achieved by attaching them to must-pass legislation; for example, the current extension was embedded in a defense appropriations bill.

What's the problem? The problem is that members of Congress disagree on aspects of the NFIP and have failed to resolve their differences. The main points of contention: some House members want to expand the NFIP to also offer wind coverage. Along with much of the insurance industry including PIA, the Obama administration does not support this and neither does the Senate. Also at issue: whether the program's current $20 billion deficit should be paid off by the government, and how the program should be reformed and modernized.

The major issues currently facing Congress - including healthcare, financial regulatory reform and a host of other issues - mean lawmakers do not have ample time to conduct hearings, devise reforms and achieve consensus on a comprehensive flood insurance bill. As a result, Congress keeps kicking the can down the road with a series of short-term NFIP reauthorizations.

What It Means to Agents:  The NFIP must be renewed. At stake is the economic recovery. Real estate transactions requiring flood insurance to secure financing cannot proceed if coverage is not available through NFIP, which provides access for over 95 percent of the available coverage.

Congress needs to set a reasonable schedule for itself to deal with this problem. That means extending the NFIP for a period of time long enough that will allow for serious consideration of comprehensive reforms. An extension through the end of this year would allow for that. A shorter extension - for example, through May 31 - will simply kick the can down the road once again and likely require another short-term extension. A comprehensive bill needs to include a full five-year reauthorization.

Grassroots Action Alert: Please contact your Member of Congress and urge him or her to extend the National Flood Insurance Program. Just go to PIA National's Grassroots Action Center to send a customizable message. It takes just a couple of minutes, but it will make a big difference!

Send a Message Even If You Don't Sell Flood:  It is important that as many PIA agents as possible send this message - whether or not you sell flood insurance! Professional independent insurance agents who are members of PIA help each other on many issues. For example, not all PIA members sell crop insurance; however, in just one week of a PIA National Grassroots Action in January on a plan by the USDA that threatened to slash the federal crop insurance program (placing agents' incomes in jeopardy), PIA members from __ states sent more than 1,000 letters to their Representatives and Senators.

Flood Program Extension Slashed From Bill at Last Minute (BestWire 2/12/10)

Talk of Swapping NFIP's Oversight Committee (National Underwriter 2/5)

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