Flood insurance program in danger of going underwater

Many Florida residents have had experience with flooding caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. The National Flood Insurance Program allows property owners to purchase coverage to pay for flood damage to property. However, the program’s top official has cast doubts on the continued viability of the program, referring to it as a “melting iceberg.”

Flood insurance policies are written by private insurance companies under their own names, and the federal government pays the claims. Currently, 4 million flood insurance policies sold by 245,000 agents and served by 6,000 engineer claims adjusters are monitored by a federal staff of only 80 employees. The problems created by this lack of resources are evidenced by the fact that two years after Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast, there are 2,000 outstanding cases brought by property owners who claim they did not receive adequate benefits under their policies.

One U.S. senator has urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to sell policies directly, bypassing the network of insurance companies. The outgoing head of NFIP agreed that the current model creates a barrier between the program and its customers, resulting in a lack of understanding by flood survivors of the benefits of flood insurance.

Many people do not know what is covered by flood insurance, and many property owners who are required by law to purchase flood insurance do not do so. A property owner with a flood insurance policy should review the policy to be sure it is up to date. A property owner without flood insurance should contact the NFIP to determine if flood insurance is needed or required. Those who are concerned that they have not received full benefits or have been denied coverage under a flood insurance policy may want to consult a water damage attorney to determine the legal recourse that may be available.