US Insurance Program Could Pay $11B For Harvey

NFIP Extended Until Dec. 8

NFIP Extended Until Dec. 8

Hurricane Harvey and Irma are a reminder of nature's potential wrath.

Wright said uninsured homeowners around the country should learn from what is happening in Houston and other flood-ravaged parts of the country and seriously weigh whether they should buy a policy.

However, more than 20 percent of flood claims actually come from properties that lie outside of high-risk flood zones, according to FEMA. That includes many homes that are outside 1-in-100 year floodplains or that don't have federally-backed mortgages requiring flood insurance policies. And a big factor in the low cost of housing in the Houston area is that developers are free to build nearly anywhere, including marshy, low-lying areas where land is cheap.

Congress has given the debt-saddled National Flood Insurance Program, set to expire September 30, a three-month extension. While the crop insurance program is a well-run public/private partnership that, in most years, actually returns a profit to the government, the federal flood insurance program is a massive political boondoggle that costs the USA treasury billions of dollars.

Several of the victims said they are still waiting for the government to honor their claims.

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The NAR is calling on Congress to make extending the NFIP a top priority as that will give protection while the necessary work is carried out to finish reforming and reauthorizing the programme. Insurance groups say that unless you live on a hilltop, you should purchase flood insurance these days.

Real estate data company CoreLogic estimates that approximately 70 percent of flood losses from Harvey will be uninsured. Because of major storms like Katrina, Sandy and Matthew, the NFIP is $25 billion in debt to the government.

Editor's Note: Homeowners generally rely on insurance provided by the federal government to cover the costs of rebuilding their lives after a flood.

The government program is in the red and congress may decide that needs to change.

The insurance and reinsurance losses are expected to be just a fraction of the total economic loss, which RMS estimates as between $70 billion and $90 billion. People are more likely to buy, build or rebuild homes in flood-prone areas and have diminished incentives to invest in flood risk mitigation, such as by elevating their home, if they can buy insurance at below-cost rates.

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"Congress has never turned their back on a flood insurance holder, and I can not imagine them looking away now", Wright said.

Legislative efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program to put it on firmer fiscal footing have produced mixed results.

That's especially true, he said, because flood insurance for coastal properties generally covers those with high incomes who in many cases have the insurance to cover a second home, or a house used as a rental property. It is to help them rebuild. He declined to say how many of those homeowners had stopped paying their premiums or how much time typically goes by between a policy lapsing and Wells Fargo finding out about it.

The extension of the NFIP is separate from HR 2874, also known as the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in June but has yet to be considered by the House Financial Services Committee. Zone AE has the highest risk and rates.

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