The National Flood insurance Program paid out nearly $2.2 billion in claims in 2021, E&E reports. The eighth-largest claims year in the NFIP’s 53-year history was driven almost entirely by the $2 billion of insured damages caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey. Numerous climate impacts — including rising sea levels, faster snow and ice melt, and increasing extreme precipitation events, total precipitation, and storm surge — fuel increasing U.S. flooding risks.
The funds disbursed by the NFIP only cover a portion of the total damage wrought by flooding. The floods that killed 20 people in Tennessee last August destroyed their home and much of their hometown of Waverly, and unaffordable premiums force families like Gretchen Turner’s into impossible decisions of whether to rebuild their homes or leave. “None of my neighbors had flood insurance. We weren’t in the flood plain. It wasn’t required,” Turner told NPR. “And if we could have gotten it, it was going to be around $600 a month.”
Recent efforts to increase flood insurance premiums to more accurately reflect flood risks notwithstanding, the NFIP owes more than more than $20 billion to federal taxpayers for claims payments beyond its premium revenue. (E&E $; Tenn. Family: NPR; Climate signals background: Flooding, Extreme precipitation increase, Total precipitation increase, Snow and ice melt, Storm surge)