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Homeowners are Neglecting Flood Insurance


floodMany homeowners may be facing financial difficulties in Dorian’s aftermath due to a lack of insurance, according to reporting from E&E News. [1] According to E&E, there were 734,445 federal policies in effect in the 59 counties in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina that have been under evacuation orders related to Dorian as of September 4, 2011. That number has dropped to 508,731 as of last week.

"A lot of the time what you'll see is a big spike after a big flood event as people realize flood insurance could be a good investment. Over the next few years it sort of tails down," said Anna Weber, a Senior Policy Analyst and flood insurance expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "There is a certain amount of flood amnesia that happens in communities where a flood doesn't happen for a while and you want to put your money toward other things."

According to R.J. Lehmann, who analyzes financial services at the R Street Institute,  rising insurance premiums under the NFIP have driven policyholders away. A federal law enacted in 2012 led to substantial premium hikes as Congress sought to reduce the number of policyholders that received discounts.

"I do think there's something to be said for the private insurance industry's talent at marketing," Lehmann said. "They are willing to spend money to market it if they had incentive to do so."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency runs the NFIP. In a news briefing yesterday about Dorian, FEMA Associate Administrator Jeffrey Byard declined to speculate about what caused a decline in flood coverage when asked by E&E News.

"We're dealing with human interest and human decisions," Byard said. "What our job is is to continue to push the insurance message. Whether our citizens take that, that is a personal choice. ... Flood insurance is one of the best ways to recover after a disaster."