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Land Conservation and Sea Level Rise—Florida Edition

If you’re a fan of crime fiction with a dash of humor, you might have read some of Carl Hiaasen’s books—Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Paradise Screwed, to name three. If so, you’ve probably noticed Hiaasen’s love of nature, specifically the wild and woolly swamps and back woods of south Florida. In early November, Hiaasen wrote […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Climate-Ready Coastal Development? A Model from Pelican Bay, Florida

Americans love the coast.  We live there.  We vacation there.  Coastal areas generate substantial economic activity.  But building on the coast is risky—storms and sea level rise threaten coastal development.  Is there a model of development that allows us to enjoy all the ocean has to offer and yet reduces the risks from these hazards? […]

Sandy’s Unaccounted-for Costs

Hurricane Sandy and the system it is merging with are predicted to cause substantial damage across the mid-Atlantic. Damages from climate-related disasters, like this one, are on the rise, both within the US and worldwide. This is due in large part to more people, and therefore more buildings, locating in risky areas. It is also […]