Despite recent efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), most U.S. homeowners do not carry insurance to protect their properties against the risk of flooding. For most homeowners, the purchase of this coverage is mandatory only if they live in certain specified high-risk areas. However, significant risk exists in areas where the purchase of flood insurance is rare. Even in areas where flood coverage is required, data from the NFIP and private flood insurers do not indicate high degrees of coverage.
Beyond direct damages to property and communities, the flood insurance protection gap could have many downstream financial impacts. Homeowners insurance is integral to protecting the collateral that underpins the U.S. mortgage system. As a result, coverage gaps could create adverse financial exposure to bearers of mortgage risk including mortgagees, insurers, reinsurers, federal underwriting agencies, and bondholders.
In a new Society of Actuaries report, professionals from Milliman and catastrophe modeling firm KatRisk examine the countrywide residential exposure to flooding and downstream implications including its impact on mortgage default risk. They also consider how flooding may be affected by rising sea levels and evaluate how it could affect the financial health of residential householders.
Flood was a peril once thought to be uninsurable by the private insurance market. Today, the sector is poised to grow rapidly. Milliman consultants Nancy Watkins and Dave Evans are optimistic that private insurers will significantly close the U.S. flood “protection gap” in a few years by routinely offering flood coverage alongside most homeowners policies. In a recent Carrier Management article they authored, the consultants discussed trends in the private flood market leading to this prediction, and outlined several obstacles the market will need to overcome along the way.
To learn more about what flood insurance for U.S. homeowners could look like in a couple of decades, listen to the Critical Point episode entitled “The future of flood insurance.”
If you’ve watched the news recently, it will come as no surprise that flooding has become a major issue for communities across the United States. In this episode of Critical Point, Milliman consultants Nancy Watkins and John Rollins discuss the history and future of flood insurance. They also explore what flood coverage for homeowners could look like a few decades from now.
The visibility of climate change’s impact on property hazard is increasingly leading individuals and their chosen leaders to ask: how might an increase in hazard affect the desirability of living in various communities and how do we manage the socioeconomic effects? Recent stories have highlighted the concerns of “climate gentrification,” or potential migration from low-lying but relatively well-off areas to areas of higher elevation but sometimes higher poverty.
Milliman has worked with Jupiter Intelligence, a climate risk analytics provider of forward-looking and probabilistic hazard data for future conditions, to develop a framework for analysis that may spark insight for community leaders in the public and private sectors who are charged with managing climate change and planning for a resilient future. This paper by Molly Barth and John Rollins investigates insurance risk, consumer costs, and resilience incentives under the stress of a changing climate in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
In this AM Best interview, Milliman’s John Rollins discusses the evolution of the private flood insurance market and the challenges to writing private flood insurance. He says that historically the federal government has supplied most of the flood insurance in the United States. But with the private flood insurance market opening up, there is a significant market opportunity for insurers. Roughly 40 million people in the United States need flood insurance, but only about 5 million to 6 million actually buy it. Rollins also talks about the technology involved in writing private flood insurance and how this has changed over the years.
The U.S. private flood insurance industry is an emerging market with the potential for risks and rewards, none as important as helping Americans become more resilient against devastating floods. Several converging developments have transformed the formerly niche offering into a potential sustainable, large-scale business. These developments include rapid advances in technology, an abundance of risk capital, a break in the longstanding legislative status quo, and the human and economic impact of recent disasters on consumer awareness of the increasing flood hazard.
Establishing a greater private flood insurance market should benefit insurance consumers, helping to close the protection gap and improve the resilience of households and economies against future flood-related catastrophes. But as with most great undertakings, hard work and foresight are necessary for success. In this paper, Milliman consultant John Rollins explores some questions and challenges for aspiring U.S. private flood insurers.
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