With forecasters predicting a very active Atlantic hurricane season, it’s timely that a long-term extension to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is up for debate on the House floor today.

HR 5114, the Flood Insurance Reform and Priorities Act of 2010, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would reauthorize the NFIP through 2015.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) notes that this year alone, Congress has allowed the NFIP to lapse three times.

During these lapses, new flood insurance policies could not be written, leaving homeowners vulnerable and delaying thousands of real estate transactions per day in flood-prone regions.

The latest extension, signed into law by President Obama just a few weeks ago extends the program through September 30.

As the debate continues on how to secure the long-term future of the NFIP, here’s a look at the program by some of the numbers (sourced from I.I.I. facts and stats, and the NFIP website):

  1968: the year Congress created the NFIP.

  $2.6 billion: what the NFIP paid out in flood losses in 2008.

  $17.6 billion: the highest amount ever paid out by the NFIP in 2005 – including losses from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

 5.7 million: the number of NFIP policies in force at the end of 2008, up from 4.7 million at the end of 2004.

 $542: the average flood insurance premium in 2008.

 $42,066: the average flood claim in 2008, up from $26,390 in 2007.

 $250,000: the maximum coverage provided by the NFIP for the structure of a home, and $100,000 for personal possessions.

 $119: starting price of NFIP coverage for homeowners in moderate-to-low risk areas.

 30: the number of days it takes for an NFIP policy to take effect from the date of purchase.

Check out further I.I.I. facts and stats on flood insurance.