Category Archives: Disaster Resilience

Expanded Triple-I
Flood Risk Maps Provide Richer Perspective

The Triple-I Resilience Accelerator’s flood risk visualization tool is being enhanced with:

  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) data on “take-up rates” by U.S. county from 2010 to 2021,
  • Differences between take-up rates inside and outside of flood zones, and
  •  in different proximities to flood zones.

These additions will expand the Accelerator’s visualization from covering only the current year to providing an historical perspective on how take-up rates have changed over time. 

Take-up rates and resilience

Insurance take-up rates represent the percentage of people eligible for a particular coverage who take advantage of it. In the case of flood insurance, they are calculated as the number of insurance policies in force in a certain geography over the total number of eligible properties for which insurance can be bought.

Understanding flood insurance take-up rates is essential to assessing and improving communities’ ability to rebound from damaging events. About 90 percent of natural disasters in the United States involve flooding, the NFIP says, and much has been written about the flood protection gap.

“On average nationwide, only 30 percent of homes in the highest risk areas have flood coverage,” according to the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a Triple-I Resilience Accelerator partner. “Less than 25 percent of the buildings flooded by Hurricanes Harvey, Sandy, and Irma had insurance. Indeed, repeatedly after floods there is evidence of the United States’ large and persistent flood insurance gap.”

But understanding that gap to a degree that will support meaningful action requires comprehensive, granular data only NFIP can provide. It also requires the data to be available in easy-to-use formats. This is where the Triple-I/NFIP collaboration comes into play.

Key considerations to keep in mind when looking at take-up rates are year-over-year changes; whether the rates are by city, county, or state; and whether they are for all homes or homes in flood zones alone. During the first quarter of 2021, Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator’s flood map will be updated with four options for users to visualize:

  • Annual take-up rates from 2010 to 2018,
  • 2019 take-up rates based on 2018 renewals only,
  • County-wide and flood-zones-only take-up rates estimates for 2020, and
  • County-wide share of dwellings in close proximity to flood zones.

Historical perspective

In 2019, NFIP started publishing historical data on NFIP insurance coverage, policies, and claims. NFIP’s decision to publish this data was a transformative point for industry practitioners, academics and those involved with flood insurance analysis. The Triple-I’s visualizations use NFIP’s full- and part-year data from 2010 to 2019 and our own estimates, based on this data, for 2020.

Dr. Michel Léonard, CBE, Triple-I vice president and senior economist says: “We’ve worked closely with NFIP to ensure that our visualizations reflect the most current, accurate information available on flood insurance take-up rates. In addition, we wanted to add to the discussion surrounding NFIP take-up rates by providing less common yet insightful ways to understand and visualize take-up rates, such as take-up rates for properties in flood zones only or the share of a country’s property in different proximities to flood zones.”

Flood coverage, as opposed to water damage from mechanical breakdown inside a house, isn’t included in most homeowners insurance policies, so many homeowners may not realize they don’t have it if their bank didn’t require them to buy it before providing a mortgage. Until recently, flood insurance was considered an “untouchable” risk for private insurers to write, so the NFIP was the only game in town.

In recent years, however, Congress adopted new laws to support the emergence of a robust domestic private flood insurance market.  Last year, regulators provided rules that allowed private carriers to offer flood policies outside of NFIP and to qualify for the mortgage flood insurance requirement. Carriers and reinsurers are expanding their use of sophisticated models to underwrite flood risk, driving the growth of private sector flood insurance.

 “We want to acknowledge and stress how significant the NFIP Policy and Claims data is to increasing our understanding of flood risk,” Léonard said. “Good data takes a lot of work, and NFIP’s commitment to making this data available is a perfect example of public-private partnerships delivering concrete value.”  

Resilience Town Hall: Looking Back and Ahead

It’s become commonplace to say COVID-19 has “changed everything” and that we’re now figuring out how to live within “the new normal.” But listening to five experts in yesterday’s Resilience Town Hall, I was repeatedly struck by how much 2020 – with its pandemic and record-breaking hurricanes, wildfires, and civil unrest – has uncovered holes in our “old normal” existence that have long needed fixing.

The town hall – the last this year in a series presented by Triple-I and ResilientH2O Partners in partnership with the Resilience Accelerator –  brought these experts together to discuss lessons learned from 2020 and predictions for 2021. 

“Disasters can and will happen,” said Carlos Castillo, chief development officer at Tidal Basin Group, who previously led resilience efforts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “The challenge is for people to recognize that they can happen to them and there are things they can do about them.”

Castillo spoke about FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. In 2020, BRIC made $500 million available on a competitive basis for disaster mitigation programs. While that amount won’t solve the nation’s disaster worries, Castillo said, the idea was to encourage public and private entities to provide matching funds for efforts that would make a real difference.

COVID-19 has made even more federal money available to states and localities and spurred projects that might not be obviously pandemic-related at first glance. Castillo cited one state that is applying for federal funds to fix its roadways to improve access to healthcare facilities. Such improvements would benefit the state and its people not just during a pandemic but in all kinds of emergencies.

This matters because, as Castillo put it, “the pandemic has shown us the importance of our logistics systems. Suddenly, everybody’s competing for masks, gowns, gloves, and respirators. It’s a matter of life or death.”

Public-private partnership

Public-private collaboration was a prominent theme. Rich Sorkin, CEO and cofounder of data and analytics company Jupiter Intelligence, said that only three years ago resilience was “almost the exclusive province of the public sector.”

But by the start of 2020, he said, climate change and its impacts were among the top priorities identified by many commercial entities, “especially in financial services.”

COVID-19 interrupted that immediate focus.

“Executives were distracted dealing with disruptions in their own internal workflows and with changes in the economy,” Sorkin said. Nevertheless, he noted several positive developments, including BRIC and the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment – an effort by insurers, investors, asset managers, analytics firms, and regulators to understand the return on investment in resilience and communicating it to financial markets.

Sorkin said he expects 2021 to be a “breakthrough year for the private sector from a resilience perspective.”

Richard Seline, co-founder of the Resilience Innovation Hub, reinforced Sorkin’s prediction, stating that “the private sector no longer leaves it to the government to be the driver of solutions.”

Behavioral change

Dr. Michel Léonard, CBE, Triple-I vice president and senior economist, pointed out that the insurance industry has continued to provide coverage throughout 2020 on economically viable terms for consumers and businesses.

“One of the reasons we’ve been able to maintain this ecosystem,” he said, “has been our work with regulators and commissioners – and increasingly with consumers, to be able to drive behavioral change.”

Léonard and the other speakers discussed the complexity of bringing about such change – the role of regulations and incentives, the importance of data-driven decision making, and getting consumers to engage in the sort of cost-benefit analysis usually associated with professional risk managers.

 “Whether it’s building codes or pre-emptive risk mitigation, it costs money,” Léonard said, “Whether it’s new construction or public or private, you have to have people ultimately say, ‘It’s worth the money’.”

He added that technology – such as telematics for cars and smart-home systems – is providing data that can support arguments for change.

Eleanor Kitzman, founder of Resolute Underwriters and a past insurance regulator for Texas and South Carolina, described the fragmentation and politicization that can make such change difficult.

 “We’ve got a real lack of alignment – not among interests, because the interests are aligned – but of incentives,” she said. “I’m focused on windstorms at a residential level, but also on the impact it has on communities.  These storms devastate communities, and some of them never come back. And it’s so avoidable.”

Knead to Know – Basics for Business Survival

Dimitri Mikhaylov working the front register at Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

In support of Small Business Saturday, November 28, the Insurance Information Institute spotlights Chelsea Bagel, a business that has stayed resilient during the pandemic.

Deciding on your local bagel shop is a quintessential part of becoming a New Yorker. I’ve made this city my home for the past 17 years now, and it’s the first thing I do every time I move into a new neighborhood. About four years ago, I made Midtown East, Manhattan my home, and it didn’t take long for Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City to become my go-to shop.

Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City is owned by Dimitri Mikhaylov. He opened the shop and its sister restaurant, Chelsea Bagel & Café , along with his brother in 2015. Owning his own bagel shop became a dream after Dimitri invested in another coffee shop a few years prior. Never did he imagine just five years later, the world would be in a global pandemic.

The bagel and spread counter
at Chelsea Bagel of Tudor City

“Prior to the pandemic, we were doing fine covering expenses. We had a steady flow of regular customers and high traffic from tourists. Facing the pandemic and this tough economy has been one of our biggest challenges,” says Dimitri.

In the early days of the pandemic, Dimitri had to make some difficult decisions to keep his doors open. He made reductions in staff, changed hours of operation, and withheld his own paycheck in order to pay his employees.

“The first four weeks of the pandemic, I spent a lot of my own money to meet business expenses, and I didn’t pay myself for 10 weeks,” he says. “My wife and I also had to make the decision to postpone our home mortgage for six months in order to pay for the business.”

“During that time, I thought that my business interruption insurance would have been able to help cover our losses, but after contacting my insurer, I realized pandemics are not covered. The next step was to apply for a government PPP loan.”

The small business PPP loan allowed Dimitri both to cover his expenses and hire back some staff. Since the summer, business has picked up, and he’s slowly welcoming back his regulars. There has been a 25% increase in customers in recent months compared to the start of the pandemic where business decreased by 75%.

In addition to the PPP loan, Dimitri advises that small business owners really look at their expenses to see where they can cut off spending. At the height of the pandemic, he chose to do all the buying himself, which drastically cut down the cost of goods for his shop.

“I’m hoping that the economy returns and brings customers back,” Dimitri says. “This area [New York City] relies on tourists.”

“It crossed my mind not once but many times to give up the business during all this, but hope kept me going. I have a family to feed and my employees have families to feed.”

Hurricane Delta Triggered Coral Reef Parametric Insurance

Hurricane Delta last month triggered a 17 million peso (US $800,000) insurance payout to the  Trust for the Integrated Management of the Coastal Zone, Social Development, and Security for the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The parametric policy, deployed last year, cost the trust nearly 5 million pesos (US $230,000), covering 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) of coastal ecosystems for the entire 2020 hurricane season.

Recent research illustrates the benefits provided by mangroves, barrier islands, and coral reefs – natural features that frequently fall victim to development – by limiting tropical storm damage, particularly from storm surge. Unlike traditional insurance, which pays for damage if it occurs, parametric insurance pays when specific conditions are met – regardless of whether damage is incurred. Without the need for claims adjustment, policyholders quickly get their benefit and can begin their recovery. In the case of the coral reef coverage, the swift payout will allow for quick damage assessments, debris removal, and initial repairs to be carried out.  

Quintana Roo partnered with hotel owners, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Parks Commission to pilot a conservation strategy involving a parametric policy that pays out if wind speeds greater than 100 knots hit a predefined area.  

Similar approaches could be applied to protecting mangroves, commercial fish stocks that can be harmed by overfishing or habitat loss, or other intrinsically valuable assets that are hard to insure with traditional approaches.  

Latest “Lightning Round” Highlights Resilience Hack-a-Thon Winners

Last week’s Lightning Round III: Products and Services for Disaster and Risk Mitigation featured presentations by four teams of entrepreneurs who have developed products to boost societal resilience and mitigate natural disaster risks. This was the third time this year that Triple-I and its Resilience Accelerator, ResilientH20 Partners and The Cannon, have connected entrepreneurs with leading insurance innovation specialists and investors.

The first two presentations were by prize-winning teams from 2020’s Hack-for-Resilience competition, which was hosted by Wharton Risk Center and Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator. The teams presented:  

  • Air.ly:  An app that identifies locales near wildfire zones where individuals afflicted with respiratory issues, or other health complications, can find fresh-air recreation opportunities. It won the prize this year for the Best Overall Hack-for-Resilience.
  • Insura: An app that uses a home’s location and historical loss data to recommend mitigation and maintenance activities that could reduce a homeowner’s insurance premiums.  It won this year’s prize for the Best Application of Insurtech.

Ami Nachiappan, a Junior at New York University, presented on behalf of the four-member Air.ly team.

“For many with sensitive respiratory systems, the wildfires’ smoke has created difficulty breathing and dizziness,” she said, pointing out that this can be the case hundreds of miles from fire locations and long after the blazes have been extinguished.

Air.ly provides “a comprehensive visualization of real-time air-quality data across the U.S.,” as well as well as recommending locations for safe outdoor recreation activities. Existing weather apps that display air-quality information lack “call to action options and cautionary warnings,” and recreation apps like Yelp lack real-time weather and air-quality information.

This fragmentation, Nachiappan said, is what sets Air.ly apart.

Savan Patel, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke for the four-member Insura team. Insura is a third-party “gamification platform” for home improvement products modeled after applications that seek to reduce automobile accidents and claims by influencing driver behavior.

In addition to the hack-a-thon winners, two established businesses – members of the Resilience Innovation Hub “portfolio of disaster risk-mitigation innovation” presented their products:

  • Thermal Gate™ 2.5:  An artificial intelligence-based system that screens and detects individuals who have an elevated body temperature before they enter venues that are open to the public.
  • Mesh++ : A just-in-time WiFi community network that requires no external power or wiring to generate broadband access for first-responders, citizens, and preparedness interests.

All four presentations can be viewed below:

Mitigation Matters – and Hurricane Sally Proved It

 A FORTIFIED roof (left) sustained no damage from Hurricane Sally, the neighboring house (right) did not fare as well.

The FORTIFIED construction certification was developed by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) to protect homes against severe weather. In this post Fred Malik, managing director, FORTIFIED, and Chuck Miccolis, managing director, Commercial – IBHS, talk about how the system held up in Alabama against Hurricane Sally.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan slammed into Alabama causing widespread devastation. Unwilling to let the same damage happen again, thousands of homeowners and commercial property owners have turned to IBHS’s FORTIFIED program to protect their properties and prepare for the next big storm. 

Last month, the ‘next big storm’ came. Exactly sixteen years since Hurricane Ivan made landfall, Hurricane Sally crawled its way onto the Alabama coast. The Category 2 storm subjected homes and businesses to more than 8 hours of relentless winds. While the aftermath of Sally’s landfall vividly showed too many buildings are still not built as strong as they could be, those in the area built to the FORTIFIED standard provide hope for a more resilient future.

More than 16,000 FORTIFIED properties were put to the test and they demonstrated homes and businesses can be built better. In the days following Sally’s landfall, IBHS conducted field assessments across coastal Alabama to better understand building performance, including dozens of FORTIFIED properties. To date, indications are that more than 90% of the thousands of FORTIFIED buildings had zero to minor cosmetic damage. As a wind standard, FORTIFIED performed to its design.

The evidence is clear driving through Baldwin County, Alabama – home and business owners who had a FORTIFIED Roof didn’t need a blue tarp, didn’t have significant water intrusion through the roof, and businesses were able to re-open as soon as flooding abated and power was restored. Most observed damage was only cosmetic, and disruption was minimized, meaning those who made the decision to strengthen their properties aren’t dealing with the headache of rebuilding. Because FORTIFIED provides layers of protection, it stopped the cascade of damage before it started.

Some FORTIFIED homeowners were even able to offer refuge for neighbors in need.  Having benefited from local incentives to build stronger, some FORTIFIED homeowners in Orange Beach experienced no damage from wind or wind-driven rain, while neighbors were forced to make repairs as well as tear out and throw away much of the contents of their homes.

Another poignant example took place at the Lodge at Gulf State Park, which had been completely destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Determined to overcome the vulnerabilities Ivan had so devastatingly exposed, the property owners wanted to be a leader in demonstrating to the community how to build back stronger. They turned to the FORTIFIED program.

The hotel was rebuilt in 2019 to the FORTIFIED standards, and IBHS verified the construction process and material selection complied with those standards. Evaluators, trained by IBHS, guided construction and design teams to minimize flaws that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. As a result, when Hurricane Sally’s eyewall passed directly over the Lodge, it not only continued operations, it also housed employees who did not have FORTIFIED homes. Additionally, many media outlets, including The Weather Channels, chose to stay at the lodge to cover the storm and, some unknowingly, benefitted from the protection of FORTIFIED to report on the hurricane, perhaps prompting FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor to emphasize “mitigation works.”

Continuing the post-storm research, IBHS will develop an analysis of key factors influencing the performance of these FORTIFIED structures. Preventing avoidable damage is one of IBHS’s three imperatives, and Sally demonstrated how FORTIFIED achieves that mission. For more information, go to fortified.org.

Lightning Round Webinar Showcases Cutting Edge Disaster Mitigation Technologies

Four entrepreneurial teams who have developed products to boost societal resilience and to mitigate natural disaster risks will present them during a free Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) event on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m., ET.

Billed as the Lightning Rounds for Resilience and Pre-Disaster Mitigated Innovations, it is the third time this year the Triple-I and its Resilience Accelerator, ResilientH20 Partners and The Cannon, have connected entrepreneurs with leading insurance innovation specialists and investors. Pre-registration is required.

The first of the day’s two panels will feature the web-based apps developed by the prize-winning teams from 2020’s collegiate Hack-for-Resilience III. The Triple-I and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania honored these two student entrepreneurial teams in September 2020.

  • Air.ly:  The app identifies locales near wildfire zones where individuals afflicted with respiratory issues, or other health complications, can find fresh air. It won the prize this year for the Best Overall Hack-for-Resilience.
  • Insura: The app uses a home’s location and historical loss data to recommend mitigation and maintenance activities which could reduce a homeowner’s insurance premiums.  It won this year’s prize for the Best Application of Insurtech.

“We’re excited to spotlight the outstanding work of talented students who have accepted the challenge to build and empower the resilience movement. Products like Air.ly and Insura are proof today’s brightest young minds are creating the tools that will better allow people to navigate through, and prepare for, natural disasters,” said Michel Leonard, PhD, CBE, Vice President and Senior Economist, Triple-I.

Two established businesses – members of the Resilience Innovation Hub “portfolio of disaster risk-mitigation innovation” -will present their products and services during the event’s second and final panel:  

  • Thermal Gate™ 2.5:  The artificial intelligence (AI) based system screens and detects individuals who have an elevated body temperature before they enter venues which are open to the public.
  • Mesh++ : The just-in-time WiFi community network requires no external power nor wiring to generate broadband access for first-responders, citizens, and preparedness interests.

Click here to register.

Mudslides Often Follow Wildfire; Prepare, Know Insurance Implications

As wildfires continue to burn in California, Oregon, Colorado, and elsewhere – and people pray for precipitation to help firefighters in their efforts – another threat looms: mudslides.  

Wet weather is in Oregon’s forecast, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office warned that mudslides and falling trees will be a big concern with so much burned land in the county. Areas that could be seriously affected include Mill City and Gates, where much of the towns have been destroyed by wildfires

The sheriff’s office said people need to pay attention to what happens around them and listen to alerts from local authorities. 

“We’re really concerned about as those high winds pick up, some of those coming down and creating more hazards along the roadway, more than we would see in a typical windstorm,” Sgt. Jeremy Landers with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.  

He added that it’s important that people have a plan in place in case the weather becomes dangerous. 

Santa Cruz County, Calif., also is preparing for mudslides in the aftermath of the CZU Lighting Complex fire in August. Carolyn Burke, senior civil engineer, said during a special meeting of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors,  “The only effective means of protection” is early warning and evacuation. 

The fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains burned 86,509 acres – and while Cal Fire on September 22 said it was 100% contained, risk remains of fires igniting and the subsequent danger of mudslides when rain comes. Rainy season there has a history of starting from September to November. 

In Colorado, cooler temperatures, rain, and snow have helped suppress the fires that have been  raging across that state. Alaska Incident Management Team Incident Commander Norm McDonald wrote, regarding his team’s work on the Grizzly Creek Fire, “While our assignment ends with the Grizzly Creek Fire at 91% containment, we realize there is still much work to be done and the ramifications of this fire will be long-lived with the potential for mudslides and flooding.”  

For insurance purposes, it’s important to understand the difference between “mudslides” and “mudflow.” 

Mudslides occur when a mass of earth or rock moves downhill, propelled by gravity. They typically don’t contain enough liquid to seep into your home, and they aren’t eligible for flood insurance coverage.  In fact, mudslides are not covered by any policy

Mudflow is covered by flood insurance, which is available from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a growing number of private insurers. Like flood, mudflow is excluded from standard homeowners and business insurance policies—you must buy the coverage separately. 

Virtual Discussion: Responding to Disaster During a Crisis

On September 24 a virtual discussion hosted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee will inform community leaders about how new science and technology applications are enhancing resilience and protecting lifeline systems and networks.

During the discussion experts will describe how technologies can inform risk-based decision-making in areas of neighborhood health monitoring, supply chains, evacuation planning, crisis communications, and information sharing among frontline responders. Innovation in predictive analytics, modeling and simulation, and mobility offer new solutions to tackle immediate challenges and prepare for emerging threats.

The panel will also cover how new public-private partnerships are accelerating new solutions and business models to prepare for day-to-day emergencies.

The discussion will include Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, Vice President & Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute; and Richard Seline, Managing Director, ResilientH20Partners.

About the virtual discussion:

September 24, 2020. 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

Click here to register.

Speakers:

David Maurstad, Deputy Associate Administrator, FEMA

Duane Caneva, Chief Medical Officer, DHS Countering WMD Office

Ted Smith, Ph.D., Wastewater Based Epidemiology, Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Louisville and Advisor to Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer

Catherine Cross, Deputy Under Secretary, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)

David Corman, Program Director, Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart and Connected Communities, National Science Foundation

Richard Seline, Executive Director, Accelerate H2O, Houston, Texas

Michel Léonard, Vice President and Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute

Moderator: David Alexander, Director of Resilience Research and Partnerships, DHS S&T

The Insurance Information Institute’s Resilience Accelerator was created to build awareness and adoption of insurance as a frontline defense against the impact of extreme weather events on households, businesses and communities.

If It Can Rain, It Can Flood: Buy Flood Insurance

Rivers swollen by Hurricane Sally’s rains have devastated parts of the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama, and the storm’s remnants are forecast to spread the flooding to Georgia and the Carolinas.

Many of the properties damaged will doubtless be found to be uninsured, compounding homeowners’ misery.

A well-known coverage gap

The flood insurance protection gap has been well documented. A recent Triple-I paper –  Hurricane Season: More Than Just Wind and Water – states that “about 90 percent of all natural disasters in the United States involve flooding” and cites experts strenuously urging everyone to buy flood insurance.

“Any home can flood,” says Dan Kaniewski — managing director for public sector innovation at Marsh & McLennan and former deputy administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Even if you’re well outside a floodplain…. Get flood insurance. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter or a business — get flood insurance.”

Dr. Rick Knabb — on-air hurricane expert for the Weather Channel, speaking at Triple-I’s 2019 Joint Industry Forum — is similarly emphatic.

“If it can rain where you live,” he said, “it can flood where you live.”

Despite such warnings, even in designated flood zones, the protection gap remains large. A McKinsey & Co. analysis of flood insurance purchase rates in areas most affected by three Category 4 hurricanes that made landfall in the United States — Harvey, Irma, and Maria — found that as many as 80 percent of homeowners in Texas, 60 percent in Florida, and 99 percent in Puerto Rico lacked flood insurance.

To make matters worse, a recent analysis by the nonprofit First Street Foundation found the United States to be woefully underprepared for damaging floods. The report identified “around 1.7 times the number of properties as having substantial risk,” compared with FEMA’s designation.

“This equates to a total of 14.6 million properties across the country at substantial risk, of which 5.9 million property owners are currently unaware of or underestimating the risk they face,” the foundation says.

A more recent Triple-I analysis, conducted in advance of Hurricane Sally, found that flood insurance purchase rates in the counties most likely to be affected by the storm were “remarkably low.”

“In Taylor County, Ga., for example, just 0.09 percent of properties are insured against flooding,” Triple-I wrote.

NOT covered by homeowners insurance

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. However, flood coverage is available as a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, and from a growing number of private insurers, thanks to sophisticated flood models that have made insurers more comfortable writing this once “untouchable” risk.

Invest in resilience

If it seems as if you’ve heard me beat this drum before, you’re right.  I take flood and flood insurance very personally.

After Hurricane Irene flooded my inland New Jersey basement in August 2011, destroying many irreplaceable items, it was my flood insurance that enabled me to have a French drain and two powerful pumps installed that have since kept my historically damp basement bone dry – even during Superstorm Sandy the following year.