Low flood insurance penetration leaving mark on people, properties, and the economy


Despite intense storms in the past year and historic flooding in the Midwest in 2019, the number of homeowners with flood insurance policies in the United States has dropped by at least one-third since 2011, according to the New York Times. Moreover, only 15% of homes in the floodplains have adequate coverage in Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri.

Those figures are problematic, considering the flood risk that many homeowners face, whether they’re on a coastline or not.

“From a flooding perspective overall, whether you’re looking at the coast or whether you’re looking inland, I think there has been consistent messaging that flooding has been impacting communities both from a frequency and severity standpoint,” said Raghuveer Vinukollu, SVP and natural catastrophe solutions lead at Munich Re America, adding that the smaller number of big hurricanes this year doesn’t mean flood risk has gone away. “There was tropical storm Imelda that was quite devastating to Houston again and if you think about it from the Houston area perspective, this was five years in a row that that area has been impacted with some kind of flooding.”

The Mississippi River Basin floods have meanwhile been unprecedented in 2019, landing in the top three longest-duration floods in the state. Some communities saw water levels reaching levy heights while others saw consistent flooding for 200 days straight.

“These communities are constantly seeing water outside their front doorstep. Maybe the population is [smaller], but there is clearly an impact on people,” said Vinukollu.

From an economic loss standpoint, there might have been less insured losses compared to what we saw with Hurricane Harvey, but these losses have still been very high because of the low insurance penetration in states like Florida. In fact, flood insurance penetration is sitting at 15% across the entire US and, in the Mississippi corridor, the insurance penetration is less than 2%…Read more>>