After a 2010 of fits and starts, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire again if Congress doesn't act before Sept. 30. So when should we see President Barack Obama sign a reauthorization bill?

"Given their track record, it's tempting to say some time in October," said Charles M. Chamness, president and CEO of the National Assn. of Mutual Insurance Cos. (NAMIC). "We learned last year that when it comes to the NFIP, Congress does not feel constrained by deadlines. But since then, we've seen a major roadblock lifted with the midterm elections and I'm optimistic that this year will be different. There are still some bad ideas floating around, and some issues to resolve, but there's enough of a need and enough sense among members of Congress to get together and fix this program."

The fortunes for NFIP reform were boosted last November when, as part of the Republican landslide, Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., failed to win reelection. Taylor, a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat representing a district along the Gulf Coast, had been pushing a proposal to expand the NFIP to include windstorm insurance since the devastating 2005 storm season in which his own home was destroyed. Unlike flooding, a private market exists for windstorm coverage, and Taylor's proposal, strongly opposed by NAMIC and others in the insurance industry and elsewhere, would have effectively nationalized that market.

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