The U.S. Senate passed another extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, the fourth such short-term extension in as many months.
If the U.S. House of Representatives approves the bill, the program will be operational through May 31, 2012. Without the extension, the program is set to expire on Dec. 16.
"It is vital to our economy that there not be any interruption in the NFIP, and we urge the House to quickly pass this extension to provide Congress with more time to consider their long-term extension and reform efforts," Charles Symington, senior vice president of government affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, said in a press statement.
Last year, the program expired four times for a total of 53 days. Those who already had purchased flood insurance still were covered, but no new policies could be purchased during the lapses, which caused delays for real estate closings.
More than 5.5 million Americans rely on flood insurance through the program. Damage from flooding is not covered in standard home insurance policies.
Meanwhile, Congress is working on legislation to reform the program, which is more than $17 million in the red due to losses and below-market flood insurance rates.
The House passed its version, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, in July. The Senate Committee on Banking has passed a version, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act, but the bill must still be considered by the full Senate. Once the Senate passes its legislation, the House and the Senate will have to agree on a final bill.