The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being pressed to adopt innovative methods to increase insurance penetration for floods and other natural disasters. In a draft report, FEMA’s National Advisory Council suggests that in order to increase financial preparedness for householders and local governments, novel financial models must be considered. The report notably mentions parametric triggers as a way to grow the insurance markets and protect against future disasters. Blockchain is also recommended as a means to create a land and property registry stored off-site in a secure platform.
What are parametric triggers, and how can they help?
Parametric insurance is a type of insurance that agrees—before the triggering event—to make a certain payment, instead of compensating for the pure loss. Parametric insurance pays out immediately when a certain threshold, such as water depth or wind speed, is reached; thus, expediting funding and reducing overall administrative costs.
What does the future hold for this new model?
“When added to the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and other levels of connectivity, the opportunity for expanding parametric insurance protection to individual households may merely be a matter of connecting the dots, for which FEMA is uniquely placed to lead this effort,” the Council’s report states.
Indeed, the Council believes that FEMA should “look towards a new model of insurance” in an age when natural disasters increasingly threaten both public and private interests.
The draft report also includes many suggestions to improve disaster preparedness, such as better building codes and code compliance, better preparedness for Indian tribes and rural communities, building resilient infrastructure and increasing funding for mitigation.
To close the insurance gap the report recommends:
Educating the public about the benefits of flood renter’s insurance and hidden hazards in real estate, rental properties and communities.
Stress testing state insurance guaranty funds to determine if they can withstand large-scale disasters and insurer insolvencies.
Creating more offerings for state and local governments to reduce rates of self-insurance of infrastructure.
As Hurricane Dorian churns northward off the coast of South Carolina as a Category 2 storm, the National Hurricane Center continues to forecast dangerous storm surge conditions through the Carolinas, up the coast into Virginia, as of 11 a.m. September 5.
Using National Flood Insurance Program policy takeup rates as estimated by Aon, the six coastal counties in South Carolina average a 28 percent flood insurance takeup rate, compared to a 16 percent takeup rate for the 21 coastal counties in North Carolina. Dare County in North Carolina had the highest takeup rate of both states, with 61 percent, and Hertford County had the lowest in the two states, at 1.0 percent. Overall South Carolina has 204,372 total policies in force, with 2,284,722 housing units statewide. North Carolina has 132,983 policies in force for 4,622,575 housing units statewide.
The graphic below shows the probability of storm-induced flooding for the Carolina coast as of September 5 at 2 p.m. eastern.
For up-to-date flood probability click here.
More flood insurance facts and statistics from the I.I.I. are available here.
Hurricane Barry made landfall on July 13 as the first hurricane of the 2019 season, dumping heavy rain on parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Unfortunately, whenever there’s flooding there are unscrupulous people ready to unload flooded cars onto credulous consumers, and vehicles flooded by Barry may soon appear for sale around the nation.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) warns that buyers should be particularly careful in the coming weeks and months as thousands of Barry-damaged vehicles may reappear for sale in their areas. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale with no disclosure of the flood damage, which is illegal.
“When tragedy strikes criminals have the tendency to swoop in and scam consumers especially when it comes to the resale of flooded vehicles,” said Brooke Kelley, communications vice president of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
Flood-damaged vehicles can exhibit a host of problems ranging from electrical malfunctions, mold and mildew, corrosion of various parts and slippery brakes. Corrosion can find its way to the car’s vital electronics, including airbag controllers, warns Consumer Reports.
The NICB offer the following tips to avoid being scammed:
Don’t rush to buy a used vehicle, especially if the price looks too good to be true.
Look for water stains, mildew, sand or silt under the carpet, floor mats, and dashboard, and in the wheel well where the spare is stored. Look for fogging inside the headlights and taillights.
Do a smell test. A heavy aroma of cleaners and disinfectants is a sign that someone’s trying to mask a mold or odor problem.
Get a vehicle history report. Check a trusted database service. You can check NICB’s free VINCheck database.
Have a trusted mechanic inspect the car’s mechanical and electrical components, and systems that contain fluids, for water contamination.
After a disaster, NICB works with its member companies, law enforcement, and auto auction companies to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts companies who will dismantle them and resell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of vehicles that have been damaged by Barry will be searchable through NICB’s free VINCheck® service as well as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.
VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered.
Blue Marble Microinsurance and Nespresso have developed a pilot program to bring weather index insurance to coffee farmers in Colombia, according to a recent Artemis blog.
Coffee crops are exposed to great risk from weather conditions, and farmers in developing countries often lack insurance options. The program provides coverage for excess rainfall and drought during the developmental stages in which coffee is most vulnerable.
Satellite technology is used to obtain the data required to create the weather indices against which the parametric policies can be triggered. If excess rainfall or drought occurs in a covered area, payments can be made automatically and quickly without the need for time-consuming claims assessment.
“This pilot initiative helps to establish a support mechanism for smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia so that they can continue to thrive in the face of climate change,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, President and CEO of Nespresso USA.
The program is a good example of the growth of microinsurance, which provides affordable insurance coverage to low income populations in developing counties.
So your car got flooded and two thoughts immediately flash in your head: how am I going to get to work and how am I going to pay for this mess?
I can’t help you with the first question, but the answer to the second is easy: insurance.
Comprehensive auto coverage: If you’re one of the 78 percent of Americans that opted to purchase comprehensive auto coverage, you’re in luck. Standard comprehensive coverage will pay for damages to your car caused by water or flood, subject to a deductible. It’ll even cover you if hail smashes your windows to pieces and rain ruins your leather seats.
If your car is so water-logged that it’s inoperable, then it might be a “total loss” – meaning that paying to fix it is greater than how much your car is worth. If it’s a total loss, your insurance will pay you the actual cash value for the car (that’s the purchase price minus any depreciation since you bought the car) and then salvage it.
Not everything is covered: But comprehensive coverage is not all sunshine and roses. It won’t cover you for any of your electronic equipment in the car that’s not permanently installed (think: your GPS navigation if for some reason you don’t use your smartphone for that – but your smartphone isn’t covered either). Comprehensive is also probably not going to help you out if you left your windows open during a rainstorm, so keep your eye on that weather forecast.
What if I don’t have comprehensive coverage? Unfortunately, if you didn’t opt in for extra coverage, you’re probably out of luck. Basic auto insurance doesn’t cover flood and water damage. Your homeowners and renters policies probably also won’t help: these policies don’t cover damage from floods. If you have a newer or higher-value vehicle, this lack of coverage could be a serious problem.
As FEMA puts it, “anywhere it can rain, it can flood.” The odds are good that you live in a place where your car can get damaged from water or floods. Speak to your insurance agent or carrier about whether comprehensive coverage is the right move for you and your vehicle.
If you live in the projected path of Hurricane Florence, you should be prepping your home and finalizing your emergency and evacuation plans.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts to consider for prepping and riding out the storm.
Don’t go outside during the storm.This is a no-brainer. Even a category 1 hurricane can reach sustained winds of 74 mph. Category 5 winds are over 156 mph. Wind speeds like this can turn even small debris into deadly missiles. And don’t be fooled by the eye of the storm – there will be a period of calm before the hurricane force winds return from the opposite direction.
Don’t grill indoors.If your power goes out, don’t be tempted to throw some steaks onto a grill indoors. Charcoal or gas grills can release deadly levels of carbon monoxide.
Don’t drink non-bottled or untreated water. Flood waters are often filled with bacteria and other contaminants – including sewage. Don’t drink tap water – and don’t drink any water exposed to flood water, including bottled water. The FDA has tips on how to make your tap water safe to drink.
Don’t drink alcohol.I repeat: Don’t drink alcohol during a hurricane. You never know when you will need to evacuate at a moment’s notice or deal with a life-threatening emergency. You’re going to want all your wits about you while the hurricane is raging – lives could depend on it, yours included. That’s why some jurisdictions will ban alcohol sales prior to a hurricane.
Do stock up on lots of water. The CDC recommends at least 5 gallons of water per person. You may also want to buy iodine tablets to clean drinking water.
Do make sure you have more to eat than chips and salsa. Or bread, for that matter – you’re going to want to have lots of non-perishables with nutritional value, especially canned foods. A minimum 3 to 5-day supply per person is recommended.
Do prepare yourhouse properly. Clear your yard of furniture or anything else that could blow away. Cover your windows and doors using storm shutters or plywood – and stay away from windows and doors during the storm, if you can. Make sure your carbon dioxide detector has enough battery life to prevent CO poisoning. (Check out a longer list for house prep here. I.I.I. also recently gave some advice on preparing your home.)
Do be responsible and prepare for the worst. Make sure you have emergency and evacuation plans in place before the storm hits. Communicate these plans to everyone at your house. Find out where the nearest storm shelter is. Keep track of the storm. Have flashlights and extra batteries ready. Buy a first aid kit. Ready.gov has more advice here.
These are not exhaustive lists. Make sure to check governmental information for help on prepping for a hurricane. And be safe out there. Hurricanes are not a joke.
On July 16, FEMA launched its first catastrophe bond to transfer risk from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to the capital markets, reports the Artemis blog. This will be the first catastrophe bond to solely provide reinsurance coverage for flood risks.
FEMA is seeking $275 million of reinsurance protection from a FloodSmart Re Ltd. (Series 2018-1) issuance. FloodSmart Re, a Bermuda domiciled special purpose insurance vehicle, will seek to issue two tranches of notes that will be sold to insurance linked securities funds to collateralize underlying reinsurance agreements to cover a portion of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) U.S. flood exposure.
The transaction will cover NFIP losses from flood events that are directly or indirectly caused by a named storm event impacting the United States and also Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia.
By Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute
On May 27, for the second time in three years, Ellicott City, Maryland was ravaged by what meteorologists term a “1,000-year flood”—this while some businesses were still celebrating the one-year anniversary of their reopening after the August 2016 catastrophe.
As affected households and businesses assess the damage and pledge to rebuild (or to relocate) after this deadly event, one fact looms largest: that 1,000- or 100-year floods now seem to strike with numbing regularity. The time has come, then, for communities and individuals to accept this paradigm shift by embracing resilience.
Local, state and federal governments have a wide range of tools at their disposal to effectuate resilience, including public policy solutions and rebuilding/retooling critical infrastructure to withstand greater stresses. However, for business owners, homeowners, and renters, the most important step they can take is to close the “coverage gaps” that expose them to massive uninsured losses that can delay or prevent recovery. And for regulators and insurers, this creates an excellent opportunity for public/private solutions to meet this growing challenge head-on.
A deadly storm system pummeled the southern and central U.S. this weekend leaving many areas flooded. The weather system extended from the Canadian Maritime provinces to Texas, and brought gale force winds and widespread flooding from the northern Midwest through Appalachia.
Flooding will continue to be a threat this week, the Weather Channel reports, as more than 200 river gauges reported levels above flood stage from the Great Lakes to eastern Texas. Floodwaters on the Ohio River in Louisville and Cincinnati are at their highest level in about 20 years.
Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. However, flood coverage is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers.
Below is a look at the National Flood Insurance Program’s flood insurance penetration rates in just a few of the affected areas. The table illustrates the low penetration rates of flood insurance.