USA: After Florence floods, the uninsured awaken to painful reality

Source(s)
Thomson Reuters

By Patrick Rucker

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After Matthew, the [Walker] family bought flood insurance and felt protected when the waters touched their doorstep again during Hurricane Florence.

But they are a rarity. Only about 1 percent of homes in North Carolina's inland counties are insured through the national flood insurance program, according to federal data, compared with 25 percent to 50 percent of homeowners on the coast.

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The average national flood insurance policy, which tops out at $250,000, costs about $700 per year, but varies depending on the elevation of the home, according to FEMA. Homeowners can buy supplemental insurance policies for more valuable homes through private insurers.

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The flooding from these storms shows that regions outside of the riskiest areas designated on flood maps are vulnerable too, [Craig] Fugate [a former FEMA administrator] said. Sixteen rivers have hit "major flood" levels in North Carolina, the National Weather Service said.

Experts said U.S. government maps that outline so-called "flood zones" were developed to set insurance rates and can mislead homeowners living outside of those regions into not buying flood insurance.

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For those without flood insurance, all they can hope for is federal funding, usually about $30,000, said Ray Lehmann, director of finance, insurance and trade policy at the R Street Institute.

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