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03 Setiembre 2017, 01:57 | Dolorita Barahona
Hurricane Harvey Tests Limits of Federal Flood Insurance Program
Flood damage could be tens of billions more.
He said a real estate agent and title insurance company had given him the impression he did not need flood insurance, because his home wasn't in a flood plain. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities. Critics have said the program provides a misguided tax subsidy to coastal and river valley property owners, encouraging development in flood-prone, often environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands.
All data is preliminary as officials struggle to assess the full devastation of the storm and its aftermath, but based on early economic models and simulations, Harvey is projected to be at least the second costliest storm in USA history, experts told ABC News.
The end result is that many Houston homeowners outside the 100-year floodplain have been flooded several times in just the last few years, and most city homeowners don't have flood insurance now.
With Harvey, only two of 10 homeowners have coverage, Hunter estimates.
Understand what NFIP covers: Flood insurance under NFIP is created to help homeowners deal with the financial consequences of flooding but it can differ from typical homeowner's insurance policies.
Ellis and others say the best hope now is that lawmakers will pass a three- or six-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, effectively kicking the debate down the road.
Flood insurance for more than 200,000 home and business owners in SC will soon dry up if Congress fails to fix the federal program responsible for paying their claims, writes Joshua Saks, legislative director of the National Wildlife Federation and a member of the SmarterSafer coalition.
"When you start to see policies drop like this, FEMA should have done something about this", said Robert Hunter, who ran the program in the late '70s.
Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents low-lying areas of downtown Miami and Miami Beach, urged a flood insurance solution that doesn't disproportionately affect coastal residents.
"The majority of these losses will be uninsured", Michael Young, a senior director at RMS said in a blog post. Many people avoid buying flood insurance because they assume that if a really big storm hits, federal disaster aid will cover their damage. That's roughly half of all properties - residential and commercial - in that area.
It's too early to speculate what the federal government is going to do to dig the program out of debt, said Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for the Insurance Information institute. But it typically takes a long time for Congress to design and implement programs to dole out the money, says Carolyn Kousky. It may be as low as zero percent interest, but it's still a loan, and you have your old mortgage to pay.
Excess policies let you raise limits on the payout for the house and belongings.
Homeowners with water damage can get paid through their homeowners insurance but only if wind blows out a window or sends a roof aloft first, allowing the water in.
The very basics of basements are covered, such as foundation walls, drywall walls and ceilings, electrical outlets, staircases, furnaces, water heaters and central air conditioners. As FEMA explains, "it takes 30 days after you purchase flood insurance for it to go into effect". Fights in court with insurers over wind-versus-storm damage stretched out for years after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Even before Hurricane Harvey, the NFIP owed the U.S. Treasury $23 billion, according to an August 24 S&P Global report citing the General Accounting Office. This could cause delays in getting Texans back on their feet after natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
That also could make it less worthwhile to pursue cases in court against insurers, he said. In recent years, many homeowners believed FEMA's new flood maps were often arbitrary - giving opponents even more ammunition in their fight against higher flood insurance premiums. After previous storms like Katrina and Sandy, the government stepped into help uninsured homeowners, but it can be hard to get paid. Our homeowner's policy, for example, cost $1,968 for one year's coverage.
Entrenched regional and partisan divisions have sidelined flood insurance reform for years.
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