Congress passed a seven-day extension of the NFIP to keep it from lapsing on Nov. 30. This runs until Dec. 7, a deadline at which Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution to keep funding the government or else a shutdown will occur. Another bill is pending that would reauthorize the program for six months, and so longer-term reauthorizing of the flood insurance program will likely remain on the insurance industry agenda into 2019.
Nat Wienecke, senior vice president of federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said the short approval is “very concerning” because it perpetuates uncertainty in the flood insurance market.
“Consumers and businesses need a reliable program that provides long-term access to flood insurance,” Wienecke said in prepared remarks. “Many Americans are in the process of rebuilding following the historic flooding brought on by recent hurricanes. A long-term reauthorization will provide consumers with the certainty of knowing their claims will be processed promptly.”
He added that PCI continues to “urge Congress to pass a long-term bill that will provide more consumer options and greater financial stability to the NFIP.”
Beyond flood insurance, there will be a focus on the usual insurance industry priorities in the next Congress, Wienecke told Carrier Management in an interview. All issues, from flood insurance to terrorism reinsurance, are bipartisan ones, though shifts will still come in dealing with a Democrat majority House of Representatives, Wienecke said.
Regarding terrorism reinsurance, Republicans wanted renewal of the program to include greater participation from the private reinsurance market. But Democrats, led by incoming House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Maxine Waters, will likely push for a straight renewal of the program known as TRIA, or the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.
Another shift in focus will be with the Federal Insurance Office. Wienecke noted there has been bipartisan support for changing the role of the office, which was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. But a Democratic majority in the House could prevent major changes to the FIO, Wienecke said.
Still, Wienecke said, bills will be passed and the insurance industry will push its agenda in a bipartisan way.
“In our industry we’re generally successful in getting bipartisan support,” he said.