Jun 8, 2019 - Science

NYT: Fewer Americans have flood insurance today than 10 years ago

Scott Olson. Photo: Getty Images

Despite an onslaught of extreme weather events that have barraged American homes in recent months and years, the New York Times reports that the number of Americans with flood insurance has dropped during the last decade.

Why it matters: As climate change will only increase the likelihood of floods, insurance rates are expected to surge. Beyond floods, in California, officials have tried to curtail rate bumps in regions at risk of wildfire, and also tried to discourage insurance providers from dropping policyholders.

Details: Nationally, only 1/3 of homes in the floodplain have corresponding insurance, per NYT, and no more than 15% of those in Central states plagued by recent flooding are insured. The bulk of standard home insurance policies don't include flood coverage.

“Low-income folks without a flood policy will likely be forced just to walk away from the damaged home.”
— Paul Osman, Illinois' chief of state floodplain programs, told the NYT

By the numbers: Rates can fluctuate geographically, but within the floodplain specifically, the Times reports that average annual premiums in 2015 came to nearly $1,100, with costs going up from there for those at the highest risk, per FEMA data released last year.

The backdrop: Trump's administration pursued a 2-year campaign in an attempt to double the number of Americans with flood-specific coverage. The U.S. government has offered subsidized flood coverage for nearly 50 years through its National Flood Insurance Program, which provides close to 95% of all residential flood policies nationally, per NYT.

  • However, within the last 10 years, Congress allowed FEMA to hike rates to more closely mirror the risk associated with flooding events.

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