Hurricane Florence Wreaks Havoc on the Carolinas and Lack of Flood Insurance Affects Many

Massive flooding during Hurricane Harvey in Houston in 2017.

At least 17 people have died as Tropical Storm Florence continues to ravage North and South Carolina. The storm made landfall on Friday, September 14, 2018, near Wrightsville Beach and was downgraded to a tropical depression over the weekend. Hundreds of people are stranded because of flood waters and the massive flooding is expected to inflict a high financial toll on homeowners as only a small percentage have flood insurance, which could assist them in rebuilding their homes.

USA Today reports that an estimated quarter of a million homes in North Carolina are projected to be affected by Florence, according to CoreLogic, a property analytics company. Estimates from actuaries reveal a shockingly high percentage of homeowners – both in coastal towns and farther inland – that are underinsured for a destructive natural disaster like Florence. For instance, only 10% to 20% of coastal homeowners in the hard-hit eastern area of North Carolina are covered through the government’s National Flood Insurance Program, and only 1% to 3% of homes in inland counties have flood policies.

The data shows a level of unpreparedness for natural disasters that extends beyond the Carolinas to the rest of the country. A 2015 PCI/Harris Poll survey found that  only 15% of Americans said they have talked with their insurance company about additional coverage such as flood insurance. While 58% of Americans said they were prepared for natural disasters or severe weather with adequate insurance, supplies and a response plan, when asked about specific actions they had taken, only 21% actually had a disaster response plan that included things like an emergency supply kit with food, water, first aid. Additionally, a 2017 Takeaway/Harris Poll study found that although Americans in the South are significantly more likely to say they’re prepared for a hurricane-type natural disaster compared to any other region, only 10% of American adults feel they are very prepared for a natural disaster.