A Look at How the NFIP Differs from a Private Insurance Company

Flood insurance in the United States is offered through the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The 2005 hurricane season sent the program massively into debt to the US Treasury. As the deficit grew, Congress focused its attention on the program’s pricing policies. One focus was on the roughly 20 percent of policyholders who pay […]

Adaptation and Liability

A class-action lawsuit (complaint here) by Farmers insurance against Chicago and other Illinois cities has gotten some attention (e.g., here, here, and here) because of its connection with climate change. In simple terms, Farmers (along with other insurers and property owners) suffered a lot of damage as a result of floods in April of last year, most notably in […]

Should Coastal Communities Consider Transfers of Development Rights?

My colleague, Carolyn Kousky, recently wrote a post about “managed retreat” from the riskiest areas along our nation’s coastline—areas facing sea-level rise, as well as worsening storms and hurricanes. Her recommended three-part strategy includes limiting development in high-risk areas, adopting policies for “orderly” retreat as inundation occurs, and allowing for retreat after a disaster. All […]

Managing Shoreline Retreat in the United States: A Three-Part Strategy

Sea-level rise will increasingly threaten coastal communities. Responses to the issue have generally been grouped into three broad categories: protect, accommodate, and retreat. All three of these strategies will be needed and deployed to varying degrees around the United States. Highly developed areas—think New York City—will require some structural protection. Certain facilities that need to […]

Flood Insurance Claims: A Fat Tail Getting Fatter

Floods remain some of the worst disasters around the world. They cause more property damage and insured losses than many other types of events. In the US, floods are primarily insured through the federally-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program has been making the headlines recently as Congress tries to address the program’s massive […]

Space Launch Risk Redux

Indemnification, the nation’s approach to managing some of the risks associated with the launch of privately owned rockets carrying our satellites for telecommunications, Earth observations, supplies for the International Space Station, and other services, is on its way to becoming a new annual rite of winter.  Specifically, the federal government (taxpayer) indemnifies a portion of […]

The Sandy Supplemental by the Numbers

The amount of federal spending on disaster aid has been growing over time. Hurricane Sandy resulted in an enormous level of supplemental appropriations. For perspective, we compared the Sandy supplemental appropriation, more than $50 billion, with the 2012 federal outlays by agency, excluding entitlement programs, military spending, and debt payments, as shown in Figure 1. […]

Making Flood Insurance Affordable

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) found itself floundering in debt after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, sparking a legislative push to overhaul it. The result was a risk-based pricing plan under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, signed by the president last July after passing with wide bipartisan support. But recently, questions about […]

How Much Do Weather-related Disasters Cost?

Climate scientists predict many weather-related extreme events may be changing in frequency or intensity as the climate warms, or their location, timing, and duration may be changing.  The public also perceives a trend toward more extreme events which they pin on climate change: a 2012 poll of U.S. residents by researchers at Yale found that, […]

Pipeline Safety and Keystone XL

The Premier of Alberta is in town promoting the Keystone XL pipeline. She fielded questions at the Brookings Institution, and regarding a question referring to last month’s spill in Arkansas said “these are very isolated incidents, and they don’t happen as often as people might suggest that they could.” There are plenty of data on pipeline spills which […]