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Are The Number of Home Floods Increasing?

April 1, 2021

Flood rates are changing over time, and your home may now be at risk for devastating damage from heavy rains, hurricanes, snowmelt, or overflowing streams. 

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by FEMA, provides key data to track flood damage. Find out how many U.S. homeowners are impacted by floods each year and the amount of flood damage.

Increase In Home Floods

According to data collected from NFIP, the average rate of flood insurance claims made to the federal insurance program is increasing. 

Between 1980 and 2000, there was an average of 34,833 claims per year, based on available data. That rate doubles when we look at the average of the next two decades. Using available data from 2001 to 2018, there was an average of 67,915 flood insurance claims per year. 

Cost is also increasing. In 1980, the average payout was $5,500 for the 42,000 claims made by homeowners. Just five years later, the average payout increased to $9,500 for a similar number of claims. In 2005 – a bad year for flooding – 213,593 homeowners made flood insurance claims, and the average payout was $83,198 per household. In 2018, the most recent data available, nearly 32,000 homeowners were flooded, and the average loss was $42,580 each.

Top 10 Costliest Floods in U.S. History

When looking at NFIP payout totals, the top 10 most significant flood events in the U.S. occurred between 2001 and 2017 and affected homeowners in almost every state, from Alabama to Virginia. These costly flood events affecting U.S. homeowners include:

  1.     Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 2005): 166,790 claims paid
  2.     Hurricane Harvey (Sept. 2017): 76,257 claims paid
  3.     Superstorm Sandy (Oct. 2012): 132,360 claims paid
  4.     Hurricane Ike (Sept. 2008): 46,701 claims paid
  5.     Louisiana severe storms and flooding (Aug. 2016): 26,976 claims paid
  6.     Hurricane Ivan (Sept. 2004): 28,154 claims paid
  7.     Hurricane Irene (Aug. 2011): 44,314 claims paid
  8.     Tropical Storm Allison (June 2001): 30,671 claims paid
  9.     Hurricane Irma (Sept. 2017): 21,920 claims paid
  10. Hurricane Matthew (Oct. 2016): 16,586 claims paid

U.S. Homes at Risk From Coastal Storm Surge

As sea levels continue to rise across the globe—and the rise gets faster each year—homes in coastal areas across the U.S. are at an increased risk of flooding. In addition to sea rise, climate change has also impacted the number of severe storms, including hurricanes, impacting our shore communities each year. 

As high tides get higher and storm surge impacts homeowners more frequently, these are some of the areas of the country most at risk, according to a New York University Furman Center report.

  1. Florida
  2. California
  3. Arizona
  4. Texas
  5. New York
  6. Louisiana
  7. New Jersey
  8. North Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. Massachusetts

U.S. Cities Most at Risk From Flooding

In addition to those living near the coast, residents of some of the country’s largest cities are also at increased risk of flooding in the future. More than half of the top 10 cities most at risk are located in the state of Florida. The U.S. cities with the most single-family homes at risk from storm surge flooding include:

  1. Miami, FL
  2. New York, NY
  3. Tampa, FL
  4. New Orleans, LA
  5. Virginia Beach, VA
  6. Fort Myers, FL
  7. Houston, TX
  8. Bradenton, FL
  9. Naples, FL
  10. Jacksonville, FL

What to Know About Insurance Flood Claims 

Flooding is a serious risk, and 90 percent of natural disasters occurring in the U.S. involve flood damage. 

Even if you don’t live in a coastal area, flash floods and other extreme weather events can still cause devastating flood damage for homeowners. According to FEMA, 20 percent of flood claims in the U.S. are from homeowners living in low to moderate flood risk areas. 

The first step to protecting your home and family from the increased risk of flooding is to understand the flood insurance options available. Here are some of the basics to understand about flood insurance:

  • Floods caused by weather or external water sources are not covered by general homeowner's insurance policies. A separate flood insurance policy must be purchased. In most cases, there are different flood insurance policies to cover the structure of the home versus the contents of the home.
  • Most homeowners with flood insurance get their policies from the federal government through FEMA’s program, which covers direct physical losses from floods due to storms, flash floods, tidal surges, or other instances.
  • The maximum flood insurance available is $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the contents of the home. Additional coverage may be available from a private insurer.

Protecting Your Home From Floods

In addition to purchasing a flood insurance policy, you can minimize the damage caused by flooding in the future by updating your home with flood mitigation systems and waterproofing.  

Steps to prevent flood damage can include installing flood vents, a sump pump with a backup battery, hurricane shutters, and waterproofing systems for your basement or crawl space. 

A free inspection from your local waterproofing and foundation experts can help you choose the best flood protection systems for your home.