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riverAs homeowners across the East Coast struggle to recover from Hurricane Irene and heavy rains continue to all, the current threat underscores the importance of flood insurance, which is the only way for homeowners to financially protect their property or businesses from flood damages.

Hurricane damage from water is only covered by flood insurance, which must be purchased separately through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but if Congress doesnt act soon this critical program will expire on September 30, 2011, putting millions of homeowners at risk.

As the leading advocate for homeownership and housing issues, NAR believes that the NFIP is essential to a properly functioning real estate market, ensuring access to affordable flood insurance for millions of homeowners, said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. Realtors support any and every effort to extend the program for as long as legislatively possible, so that American families wont have to go without essential flood protection.

Floods are also not just a coastal issue and are not only caused by hurricanes. Floods claimed more lives and property than any other natural disaster in the U.S. over the past century and have been declared in every state, along rivers and anywhere rain falls or snow melts.

The NFIP is set to expire on September 30 for the tenth time in three years, and NAR urges Congress to reauthorize the program for five years, before it expires. The NFIP ensures access to affordable flood insurance for more than 5.6 million home and business owners in 21,000 communities across the nation.

We strongly urge Congress to speed passage of legislation to reauthorize the NFIP for the long term and end the current stopgap approach that has already led to numerous extensions and lapses of program authority in the past two years, said Phipps.

NAR also calls on Congress to develop a proactive national policy to reduce natural disaster risk beyond floods, so that homeowners have access to affordable, comprehensive property insurance for a full range of natural disasters, and taxpayers no longer have to fund rebuilding efforts through federal disaster assistance.

Whether its a tornado, flood, hurricane, or earthquakes like those that hit Colorado and the Eastern U.S. this week, virtually every region of the country is susceptible to natures unexpected fury, said Phipps. Our thoughts are with all Americans who may be affected by this impending hurricane, and we will continue to work with public policymakers on these important issues.

The National Association of Realtors, The Voice for Real Estate, is Americas largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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