Flood insurance premiums far under-account for the increasing flood risks posed by climate change and must be dramatically increased to reflect current risks, a new report released by the First Street Foundation says. The academics and flood modeling experts behind the report say the National Flood Insurance Program policies would need to quadruple premiums on high-risk homes in floodplains just to match current risks. Nationwide, from New England to Appalachia, to the Pacific Northwest and Gulf Coast, the researchers expect flood damages will increase by more than 50% over the next 30 years, necessitating a sevenfold increase in premiums for those in high-risk areas.
While sea level rise threatens coastal communities, climate-driven flooding poses a potentially existential threat to hundreds of small towns inland as well. Global warming increases the amount of moisture that can be held in the air, just as a bigger bucket can dump more water, and thus increases the extreme precipitation that causes inland flooding. The research also found homeowners living in whiter, more affluent neighborhoods were getting a better deal on flood insurance while people of color and those in poor neighborhoods are effectively subsidizing the cost of flood insurance around the country. (NPR, New York Times $, CNN, Reuters, Bloomberg $, E&E $, Boston Globe $)