Sept. 09--If they haven't already, homeowners who suffered flood damage from Hurricane Isaac soon will file claims -- if they are lucky enough to have insurance.
Private insurers don't cover flooding. It's one of the many perils the insurance lobby has managed to have excluded. Flood coverage comes through the National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by the federal government that everyone wants out of our lives until we need it.
The Consumer Federation of America estimated last week that flood claims will double or triple the $1 billion in wind damage claims from Isaac. The flood program has just $665 million to pay claims, meaning that the government will have to borrow the difference. Any claimants then can stifle any criticism of the federal debt.
Congress regularly bickers over renewal of the flood insurance program, which becomes a mini-version of the fight over raising the debt limit. Lawmakers could dramatically increase premiums, to make the program more financially sound, but the Midwest farm lobby pushes back hard when such talk starts -- ironic as that sounds, given the record Corn Belt drought. When Floridians propose a national disaster plan for hurricanes, tornadoes and other catastrophic perils, we get lectures about living in a storm zone. Yet those farmers live on a floodplain.
Some perils are uninsurable in the private market. Rather than a government handout after catastrophes, the government needs a catastrophic insurance plan.
for The Post Editorial Board
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