Flood Insurance Program Is Back — for Now

The National Flood Insurance Program By JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ
April 19, 2010 – New York Times

The National Flood Insurance Program is back in business, at least until May 31.

Late last week, President Obama signed legislation that, in addition to extending additional unemployment benefits, also provided a temporary extension of the federal flood insurance program until May 31.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America association, the retroactive extension means that “in theory” the program will return to normal operations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the program, said the program returned to normal operations last Friday. In addition, renewals will be effective from the date of the application. Meanwhile, for new policies, the required 30-day waiting period before new policies take effect will begin on the date an application was submitted rather than on the date the program returned to normal operations.

“This reauthorization will allow for policies to continue to be issued or renewed,” said Brad Carroll, a spokesman for FEMA. “Individuals who were seeking to renew their policies or purchase a new policy during the period between March 28 and April 15 may now proceed with their purchase. Existing policies were not impacted by the lapse in Congressional authorization and continue uninterrupted.”

Congress had left for recess at the end of March without renewing the program, which was set to expire on March 28. As a result, the program was suspended from March 28 until this latest temporary extension (the program has been temporarily extended a number of times in recent years as Congress tries to work out disagreements over what it should look like in the future).

During the latest suspension period, mortgage buyers and some lenders said those seeking to buy homes in flood zones could still get a mortgage as long as they provided certain proof that they had applied for flood insurance.

Still, some trying to buy homes in flood zones said getting mortgages during the extension wasn’t that easy, or even possible, in practice. According to this Associated Press article, thousands of people were affected by the temporary suspension.

How has the extension of the program affected you, if at all?