Washington--Legislation allowing the National Flood InsuranceProgram to resume paying claims was passed by Congress late Fridayand is now headed to the White House for signature.

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The House approved a measure that accedes to legislation passedby the Senate. It raises the NFIP's borrowing authority to $18.5billion--a $15 billion increase.

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Congress is expected to work on legislation when it resumes workthe week of Dec. 5 that would increase the borrowing authority byan additional $4.5 billion and impose reforms demanded by Congressto make the program more accountable, according to the FinancialServices Roundtable.

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These additional funds are likely all that is needed to covercurrent and expected claims from the recent storms, the FSRsaid.

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The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies said in arelease to its members over the weekend that it expects the NFIP toinform insurers today "that their line of credit has been extendedand they should resume paying claims immediately."

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David Winston, senior vice president of government relations forNAMIC, said that when Congress returns in January, it will likelytake up legislation to further extend NFIP's borrowing authority,"so that the remaining $7-to-$15 billion dollars in expected claimscan be paid expeditiously."

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However, Mr. Winston said, "many members of Congress haveindicated that any additional funding will be contingent on severalpossible reforms of the NFIP."

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Among the possible reforms is mandatory coverage for everyonewho lives in the natural 100 year flood plain, extending the floodzone to 1-500 year flood zones, and increasing the level ofcoverage from the current maximum of $250,000, Mr. Winstonsaid.

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