Flood Insurance Gets 11th Hour Hail Mary

May 31, 2019

STORY UPDATE:  On Monday, June 3, as part of a $19 billion disaster aid package, the U.S. House extended authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program to Sept. 30. On Friday, June 7, President Donald Trump signed the bill.

The House on Thursday passed an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program through June 14 with only hours remaining before the program—the country’s largest flood insurer—was set to expire. The bill, which the Senate previously approved, was signed by President Donald Trump.

The NFIP appeared at risk of lapsing for much of the past week as debate over a multibillion-dollar spending bill, which included funds to extend the program, stalled. The passage of the standalone bill affords lawmakers extra time to agree on a longer-term extension.

The National Association of REALTORS® has been working with lawmakers to avoid a lapse of the NFIP, which, the association estimates, could have scuttled 40,000 home sales in June alone. Flooding is the most common disaster in the United States, and the NFIP serves Americans in more than 20,000 communities nationwide.

NAR President John Smaby noted his relief in the moments following the House’s vote to extend the NFIP. “The National Association of REALTORS® is pleased that Congress acted before the National Flood Insurance Program’s insurance writing authority could expire, and we urge both the House and Senate to secure responsible reauthorization before June 14,” Smaby said.

Congress has pieced together dozens of short-term flood insurance extensions over the past decade, but NAR warns that NFIP protections could vanish if the program remains on its current path. NAR supports reforms to the program, including strengthening flood mapping and mitigation, encouraging development of private-market flood insurance options, and addressing properties that flood repeatedly—which account for 2% of NFIP policies but 25% of claim payments.

NAR expects Congress to pass legislation extending the NFIP through Sept. 30 when lawmakers return from Memorial Day recess.