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What should be done to better address flood risk?

We ask CLM members and fellows about flood insurance and risk

February 25, 2020 Photo

"Given the increasing number of flooding events and losses, what should be done to better address flood risk, and should mandatory flood-insurance requirements be expanded?"

“The prevailing wisdom is to expand private coverage. One problem has been the absence of data. However, in June 2019, the NFIP released 10 years of policy information and over 40 years of loss data. Most insurers now have access to comparative flood-catastrophe models using actual historical experience and location information.”

Vincent P. Beilman III, Partner, Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP. CLM Member since 2014.

“Flood risk needs to be addressed where it starts: with the risk. Funding mitigation, especially pre-disaster, should become our national priority, with creative solutions. While expanding mandatory purchase may help better increase policy uptake, it still won’t cover everyone at risk, and we need to focus on increasing ‘voluntary purchase’ rather than ‘mandatory purchase.’”

Joe Rossi, Chair, Executive Director, Massachusetts Coastal Coalition. CLM Fellow since 2019.

“Many flood-prone communities are finding smarter ways to rebuild, including government buying up properties to expand green spaces. Stricter building requirements make homes safer, but are expensive. Some say “climate gentrification” has resulted. The effect of FEMA changing flood maps will expand mandatory flood insurance. Finding ways to make premiums affordable is crucial.”

Seth Weinstein, Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. CLM Member since 2013.

“To better address flood risk, in addition to the discussions surrounding rising sea levels and the risks involved for coastal and waterfront properties, we need to look at other geographic locations. Areas affected by wildfires are experiencing flooding and mudflows for years after a fire. A strong argument could be made for expanding flood-insurance requirements to include new areas.”

Kelly Cressy, Vice President, Client Relations, Provencher & Company. CLM Fellow since 2013.


Number of insurance companies participating in the Write Your Own program as of November 2019.

Source: Insurance Information Institute


Out of 14 weather and climate disasters in 2019 that resulted in damages and costs exceeding $1 billion, three of them were flood events.

Source: NOAA


Number of losses paid by the NFIP in 2018.

Source: FEMA


Percent of NFIP claims from 2006-2015 that came from properties outside high-risk special flood hazard areas, areas in which only one percent purchase flood insurance.

Source: GAO

$1.6 billion

Property and crop damage caused by floods in the U.S. in 2018.

Source: Statista


About The Authors
Phil Gusman

Phil Gusman is senior managing editor for CLM Magazine and Construction Claims magazine.  phil.gusman@theclm.org

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