Are you covered?
August 22, 2006 10:52 PM   Subscribe

Some call FEMA's administration of federal flood insurance and disaster relief illogical and illegal, although you won't find that in FEMA's recent summary of Katrina, which reveals that $15.3 billion dollars in federal flood insurance claims have been paid. That's quite a bit more than the National Flood Insurance Fund's budget, and you may recall that payouts didn't go smoothly. Still, having federal flood insurance, as opposed to relying on disaster relief, has proven its worth during the rebuilding process. Certainly Katrina was an extraordinary phenomenon, unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Perhaps that's why the annual disaster relief budget is smaller this year.
posted by owhydididoit (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Certainly Katrina was an extraordinary phenomenon, unlikely to be repeated any time soon.


I just hope that the Republicans in the legislative and executive branches are removed from power by the time more intense storms arrive. We need leadership that can better manage domestic crises as global weather patterns worsen.

Right now, that could be pretty much anyone randomly picked off the street, it seems. It's going to be a long two years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 PM on August 22, 2006

That's what you get America. Tax cuts for the wealthy, spending cuts on everything else (except defense, of course...)
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 3:47 AM on August 23, 2006

Mr. Morris' argument is lame. FEMA flood plane maps are public information. If I don't carry fire insurance and my house burns down, I can't blame the insurance industry or government for not telling me I need fire insurance.
posted by cedar key at 5:15 AM on August 23, 2006

But, Cedar Key, of course you can blame the insurance industry and the government. After all, it's also not your fault that your house burned down...
posted by bugmuncher at 6:04 AM on August 23, 2006

Actually I remember reading that without FEMA support lots of people (millions) living in coastal areas would be just plain unable to get any flood coverage at all for their homes -- and I don't mean "unable to afford it", I mean that private insurance simply will not insure you. But that was a while ago, I don't know if that's still the case.
posted by clevershark at 6:16 AM on August 23, 2006

As I understand it, Mr. Morris is arguing that he is entitled to disaster relief, not an insurance claim. FEMA says he's not entitled, because he bought his house from a man who had already received it when the house was previously flooded. Morris' attorneys are saying that the law entitles homeowners, not houses, to relief, and that since Mr. Morris has never received FEMA disaster relief, he should be eligible. It's nothing so simple as "he didn't buy insurance, so he should be homeless".
posted by owhydididoit at 6:22 AM on August 23, 2006

Certainly Katrina was an extraordinary phenomenon, unlikely to be repeated any time soon.

Is that supposed to be sarcasm?
posted by delmoi at 6:51 AM on August 23, 2006

I think it is.
posted by fungible at 6:59 AM on August 23, 2006

Sort of -- a Cat4+ storm smacking directly into a major, flood-prone city is unlikely, yes, but obviously, another disaster could happen, and I'm not convinced the response from FEMA would be better than it was for Katrina. The damage that is meted out by tropical cyclones in any given year does not usually overwhelm FEMA, but cutting their budget still seems inadvisable to me.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:02 AM on August 23, 2006

owhydididoit, you may be correct, but that is not the way I interpret it. I've filed claims for hurricane damage for a rental project I managed and am unaware of any difference between "insurance claim" and "disaster relief", when you're talking about rebuilding the structure. FEMA appears to be saying , you should have been aware that this property needed flood insurance since the prevoius owner filed a claim. Mr Morris' attorney states Mr Morris was not aware of this , so did not know he needed insurance.
posted by cedar key at 8:10 AM on August 23, 2006

Flood insurance is not the only concern:
The Louisiana Department of Insurance recently granted Farm Bureau a special emergency status that allowed it to drop wind and hail coverage on 7,500 existing customers.

State Farm has not dropped coverage but is not writing new policies.

Allstate, following Farm Bureau, is trying to drop its wind and hail coverage on its 30,000 customers in 18 parishes and has threatened to leave the state should that request be denied.

For those people dropped by Farm Bureau, those that could potentially be dropped from Allstate and all new homeowners trying to insure homes along the coastal parishes, the only option in many cases is La. Citizens.

The problem for residents is the cost. By law, the company must keep its rates 10 percent higher than the highest rate offered by any of the top 10 insurance companies in the state.
Blanco and State Farm spokesman Morris Anderson said the state and the industry must figure out how to keep homeowners insurance affordable and readily available, while protecting insurers from excessive risk if the state is hit by more storms.

Statewide, homeowners policies have gone up an average of 12 percent since the storms, including decreases in some northern parishes and spikes of over 50 percent in coastal parishes, Insurance Commissioner James Donelon said.
posted by mischief at 8:15 AM on August 23, 2006

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