Science

As Floridians recover from Ian, most homeowners in the state do so without flood insurance

Many Florida homeowners are starting hard recoveries Hurricane Ian Floods would do so without the benefit of insurance, forcing them to make difficult choices about either relocating or relocating with fewer resources.

According to property-data company CoreLogic, Ian was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the US, with initial estimates of residential and commercial damage ranging from $28 billion to $47 billion, while other estimates took the toll. over $60 billion, The storm’s powerful eye wall was unusually large, measuring 40 miles, while its storm surge was 12 feet in height.

“Since Andrew, Ian is likely to be Florida’s biggest loser,” David Smith, senior leader of science and analysis at CoreLogic, said in a recent presentation.

Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992 and was the costliest hurricane in US history until Katrina in 2005, which devastated the Louisiana coast and the city of New Orleans.

Since 1992, Florida’s population has grown by more than 60%, putting more residents at risk. According to the Insurance Information Institute, less than 1 in 5 of the state’s 10 million homes have flood insurance. Without insurance, people in flooded areas must appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for a direct grant—often $30,000 or upwards of $35,000—that they may need to rebuild or relocate.

According to Redfin, the median home in Florida sells for $395,000. Meanwhile, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, just one inch of flooding can cause $25,000 in damage.


Hurricane Ian leaves path of devastation in southwestern Florida

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Although floods are the most common natural disaster in America, with most homeowners lacking flood coverage, poor people are less likely to have insurance. According to the most recent data from FEMA, typical flood insurance policies run about $700 a year, while the average claims payout is upwards of $50,000.

“Flood insurance is not evenly distributed in at-risk areas—homeowners in wealthier and whiter areas are more likely to have coverage,” said Max Besbris, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After Hurricane Harvey.

“communication – failure”

Nationwide, surveys show that between a quarter and a third of Americans have flood insurance. Those who do not have a policy usually do so because they cannot afford it or are unaware that they need it. When Besbrisk and fellow sociologist Anna Rhodes interviewed flood victims from Harvey, they found that “most people didn’t know their level of vulnerability,” Besbrisk told CBS Moneywatch.

“They didn’t think the floodwaters could get as high as they did. The last hurricane they had was Imelda in 1979 — that was the benchmark people were working with,” Besbris told CBS Moneywatch.

“It’s a communication failure on the part of FEMA, local municipalities and governments, to really let its residents know that the risk of flooding is increasing, especially as climate change makes flooding more severe.”

Unlike car insurance, which is required by law, flood insurance is optional for most homeowners, unless they live in a FEMA-designated flood zone. But with climate change making floods more and more severe, those areas are out of date in many parts of the country.

Today, about 180,000 homes on Florida’s hurricane-hit Gulf Coast are at a significant risk of flooding, but are outside FEMA’s 100-year flood zone, according to the nonprofit First Street Foundation. The figure has risen to 350,000 across the state.

prices are rising

Not only are some homeowners covered by flood insurance, but the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Since the National Flood Insurance Program last year began raising some of their premiums to address the increased flood risk, hundreds of thousands of people have given up on their federally-backed insurance policies.

In Florida, about 48,000 fewer households have federal flood insurance this year than in 2021, according to FEMA data. The trend suggests that affordability is a concern, especially for homeowners who are poor or live on a fixed income, as do many Floridians.

“Making flood insurance costs higher means people with fewer benefits are going to stop buying coverage,” Besbris said. “When these things happen like Ian – and they will happen more and more often – entire communities other than individual families will not have clear paths to recovery.”

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