The denial of unanimous consent on a bill to extend unemployment benefits by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is having far-reaching implications for insurers. Bundled with the $10 billion measure to grant an extension of unemployment benefits were measures to temporarily extend COBRA subsidies for laid-off workers as well as another reprieve for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The expiration of the NFIP elicited a rapid response from the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA).
"While this lapse in the flood insurance program will likely be corrected retroactively this week in the Senate, it is disappointing," PIA National Director of Federal Affairs Mike Becker said in a statement. "Insurance agents and their clients who need flood insurance are now at a disadvantage. Many real estate transactions require flood insurance, and the NFIP is the sole source for more than 95% of the flood coverage nationwide. We could see real estate closings delayed until this is fixed."
A long-term extension of the NFIP has foundered upon how to fund the debt-laden program, and whether or not to include a provision for wind damage. Congress has been extending the flood insurance program for short intervals over the past two years.
"These short extensions are insufficient to maintain certainty in the market," Becker said, adding that any comprehensive flood insurance program reform bill should include a five-year authorization.
Bunning has said he is blocking the bill in the name of fiscal restraint.
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