Natural Disaster Insurance

Overview

Insurers have responded to recent natural disasters by raising insurance rates or declining to write policies. NAR supports the development of a federal natural disaster policy that promotes the availability and affordability of property insurance nationwide and provides for pre-disaster mitigation as well as post-disaster assistance.

Without federal involvement, affordable property insurance will continue not to be available in many parts of the U.S. to protect against the next mega-catastrophe caused by a hurricane, earthquake, or other Act of God. Without insurance, it is the taxpayer -- not the property owner -- that pays when Congress reacts to the latest disaster by providing millions of dollars in financial disaster assistance to rebuild under-insured properties and communities.

Political Advocacy

Current Legislation/Regulation

None at this time.


In-Depth

Letters to Congress
Congressional testimonies
Letters to federal agencies
Issue summary
NAR Federal Issues Tracker


Legislative Contact(s):

Austin Perez,
aperez@realtors.org
202-383-1046

Regulatory Contact(s):

Austin Perez,
aperez@realtors.org
202-383-1046

What is the fundamental issue?

Insurers have historically responded to natural disasters by raising insurance rates, reducing coverage, and/or declining to write new or renewal policies. NAR supports the development of forward-looking U.S. policies that improve access to affordable property insurance and strengthen or mitigate properties against future disasters.

I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?

Without federal involvement, many property owners may not have access to affordable property insurance for the next natural catastrophe. Without insurance, it is the taxpayer who pays when Congress spends hundreds of millions of dollars on supplemental disaster aid to under-insured property owners and communities. At the same time, the average homeowner receives just $5,000 in aid for property repairs and a low-interest loan that must be repaid along with the mortgage.

NAR Policy:

NAR supports establishing national disaster policies that promote the availability and affordability of property insurance and shift the emphasis from post-disaster relief to pre-disaster mitigation. That way, more property owners will be insured and as a result, fewer will turn to the federal government for taxpayer-funded assistance after the next natural disaster.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

NAR has adopted a multi-bill strategy to advance the natural disaster policy debate, including legislation that:

  1. Protects property owners by ensuring that comprehensive and transparent insurance coverage for catastrophic events is available and affordable across the United States;
  2. Acknowledges the importance of personal responsibility and smart land use decisions while providing adequate incentives to undertake appropriate measures to mitigate risk; and
  3. Recognizes the state's role in regulating property insurance markets and the federal government's in addressing mega-catastrophes as well as critical infrastructure such as federal levees and dams.

In previous congresses, NAR has supported a range of legislative approaches including:

  • Offering federal reinsurance or loan guarantees for qualified states as alternatives to a volatile global market that offers reinsurance at rates many times the expected annual loss; and
  • Clarifying insurance coverage under the NFIP where there is wind as well as flood damage.

Legislation has yet to be introduced in the 116th Congress. NAR will continue to raise the profile of the issue and support adoption of forward-looking disaster policies.

NAR Committee:

Insurance Committee

References

NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require a password.


Disaster Insurance Coverage

While the exact coverage will vary from policy-to-policy, the following list should give you a good idea of the types of natural "disasters" that a standard policy covers:

  • Fire / Lightning
  • Windstorms / Hail
  • Freezing of Plumbing / Pipes
  • Damage from Weight of Ice
  • Volcanic Eruptions (with exceptions)

Source: Disaster Insurance (Money-Zine Blog, Aug, 28, 2018)

Information From NAR

REALTOR® Tells Congress: Entire Country Needs Flood Insurance (REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 13, 2019)

FEMA: Property Owners Aren’t Prepared For Disaster (REALTOR® Magazine, Nov. 3, 2018)

Homeowners’ Lack of Flood Insurance Costs Billions (REALTOR® Magazine, Sep. 26, 2018)

Many Owners Lack Sufficient Insurance to Cover Disasters (REALTOR® Magazine, Jul. 20, 2019)

Transaction Guidance After Natural Disaster (National Association of REALTORS®, Aug. 30, 2017)

Private Flood Insurance Regulation (National Association of REALTORS®, Jan. 12, 2017)

National Flood Insurance Program (National Association of REALTORS®)

Disaster Insurance Basics

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (DisasterAssistance.gov, Apr. 3, 2019)

A Mix of Flood Insurance Reforms (Insurance Journal, Apr. 1, 2019)

Your Insurance Premium is About to Rise Like the Sea Levels (The Outline, Mar. 22, 2019)

The $5 Trillion Global Insurance Industry’s Natural Disaster Problem (CNBC, Mar. 15, 2019)

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Come Through After a Natural Disaster? (Consumer Reports, Sep. 13, 2018)

How to Negotiate Iinsurance Before Disaster Strikes (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jul. 8, 2018)

The Basics of Living in a Risk Zone (Curbed, Oct. 27, 2017)

Which Disasters Are Covered by Homeowners Insurance? (Insurance Information Institute, Sep. 18, 2017)

Flood Disaster Protection Act (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Sep. 2017)

Does Car Insurance Cover a Natural Disaster? (The Balance Blog, Feb. 15, 2017)

The National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA)

Settling Insurance Claims After a Disaster (Insurance Information Institute)

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

A Stubborn Truth: Debunking the Many Misconceptions Homeowners and Business Owners Have About Flood Insurance (Best’s Review, Apr. 1, 2019) E

FACT SHEET: Should I Buy Flood Insurance? (FEMA, Mar. 12, 2019)

Three Reasons Everyone Should Consider Buying Flood Insurance (Simple Dollar, Jan. 29, 2019)

Should You Keep Your Flood Insurance (Even If It’s Not Required)? (Quicken Loans, Jan. 11, 2019)

Can Insurance Help Californians Recover From Natural Disasters? (Pacific Standard, Sep. 20, 2018)

eBooks & Other Resources

eBooks.realtor.org

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery (Kindle, eBook)

Disaster Management and Preparedness (eBook)

How to Insure Your Home (Kindle, eBook)

Leading People Through Disasters (Kindle, eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (New York, NY: Morrow, 2006) HV 636 B75

Before and After Disaster Strikes: Developing an Emergency Procedures Manual (Chicago, IL: Institute of Real Estate Management, 2005) HC 62 In7bd

Be Alert, Be Aware, Have a Plan: The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Home,Your Family (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2002) HV 7431 R19

Natural Disasters and the Supply of Home Insurance (Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University—Center for Risk Management and Insurance Research, 2002) HG 9970 G29

Disasters and Democracy: The Politics of Extreme Natural Events (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1999) HV 555 P53

Disaster Preparedness: Simple Steps for Business (Chicago, IL: Crisp Publications, 1998) HF 5500 F87

Natural Disaster Protection Legislation: A Legislative Analysis (Boulder, CO: 1995) Pamphlet

Disaster Insurance Protection: Public Policy Lessons (New York, NY: Wiley-Interscience, 1978) HG 9970 K96

Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation in the United States: a Research Assessment (Boulder, CO: 1975) HC 62 C71d


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The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.

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