Most houses in the trail of Tropical Storm Harvey don’t have the flood insurance coverage that homeowners would want to rebuild if their houses are broken or destroyed.
Standard householders insurance coverage insurance policies cowl harm from the excessive winds which might be related to a hurricane, however they don’t cowl harm from rain or flood waters, reminiscent of storm surges or overflowing rivers. But the National Hurricane Center is forecasting as much as 35 inches of rain in some areas by the center of subsequent week because of the storm, which might carry flooding far past the Texas shoreline.
Figures from the National Flood Insurance Program present that solely 15% of houses in Harris County, which incorporates Houston, have flood insurance coverage, whereas solely 20% of houses in Nueces County, the place the coastal metropolis of Corpus Christie is situated, are coated. Coverage charges are larger in the world’s flood zones, however many houses nonetheless aren’t coated.
“If the homeowner is not required to buy flood insurance by their mortgage lender, they often chose not to,” mentioned Michael Barry, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, a shopper schooling group funded by the insurance coverage trade. He provides that there’s a widely-held false impression that householders who aren’t in floodplains can’t get protection. “Almost all homeowners can get coverage,” he mentioned.
One lady, Ify Echetebu, took to Instagram to put up photographs of her aunt’s home in Dickinson, Texas, southeast of Houston, the place she was trapped on the second ground alongside along with her fiancé, grandparents, a good friend and a number of other youngsters. She can see the rooftops of submerged automobiles in driveways, she mentioned.
“The severity of the situation just hit me,” she wrote. “I’m overcome with grief due to how helpless I feel in all of this. This is truly devastating.”
On the primary ground, the water is as much as her waist, Echetebu mentioned. Emergency companies know she and 10 others are holed up in the house, she mentioned, however as a result of emergencies take precedence, she doesn’t count on to be rescued till tomorrow.
“We’re nervous to stay here, but we are sleeping in shifts,” she mentioned. “Now we’re having to deal with sewage in the water, river water, bayou water, water moccasins, snakes, gators.”
The federal flood insurance coverage program is going through its personal challenges, past the funds it may need to make for Harvey. The drawback is that the premiums that householders pay merely don’t cowl the price of the claims that must be paid out.
“The National Flood Insurance Program’s exposure to major floods is on the rise, as evidenced by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,” this system director Roy Wright mentioned earlier this yr in a weblog put up. “These events generated claims of approximately $24.6 billion, leaving the NFIP $23 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury.”
Bills have been launched in Congress to shut the funding hole by mountaineering premiums. But lawmakers fear about angering householders who’re required to purchase flood insurance coverage, and that costly insurance policies would solely discourage different folks from shopping for them.