NU Online News Service, Nov. 15, 2:56 p.m. EST

Another temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance Program is imminent, but it is unclear when the Senate will take the next step in passing a bill that will provide long-term certainty to the program.

The House and Senate are expected to pass another continuing resolution by Friday that will keep both the federal government and the NFIP running until Dec. 16, 2011, according to officials of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association of America.

That action will avoid any federal government or NFIP interruptions, says Charles Symington, IIABA senior vice president of government affairs

According to State Farm, which is exiting the Write-Your-Program because of the uncertainty in the NFIP, this will be the 12th last-minute reauthorization of the NFIP since 2002. On four occasions, the program was allowed to lapse for extended periods of time, according to State Farm officials

The current extension runs out Friday.

Symington says, “While we appreciate this expected [short-term] action, we urge the full Senate to take up the long-term extension/reform bill that as soon as possible to avoid any further short-term extensions that fail to give the insurance market the certainty necessary.”

Matt Gannon, assistant vice president of federal affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, says there is strong bipartisan support for the Senate bill, “The Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act.”

It passed the Banking Committee Sept. 8 and is awaiting floor action. It would extend the program until Sept. 30, 2016, reduce the number of homes subsidized by the program by one-third over four years, and also allow for private reinsurers to take part of the program’s risk.

 “It is a strong bipartisan bill that would pass tomorrow if they had a vote on it,” Gannon says. “Unfortunately it’s being held up by politics, and so we’re seeing the Senate kick the can a little further down the road.”

Gannon says, “They’re not letting the program lapse, at least, but these short-term extensions continue to create uncertainty for insurers, lenders, the real-estate market, and most of all for average Americans who just want to buy or sell a home or keep their flood coverage in place. It’s a drain on a housing market, and it doesn’t need to be.”

When passed by the full Senate, the bill will have to be reconciled with H.R. 1309, the “Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011,” which was passed by the House in July.