Property owners often underestimate their exposure to low probability and high severity flooding risks. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) mapping zones tend to give property owners located outside the high-risk special hazard flood areas a false sense of security.

Currently, properties located outside of FEMA’s high-risk zones with federally backed mortgages are not required to purchase flood insurance. However, those properties are still vulnerable to numerous flooding scenarios. According to the NFIP, “policyholders outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding”.

Exposure to flood risks are increasing byway of several non-conventional flooding scenarios. The following are three of the most likely flooding scenarios property owners may experience:

Greater Precipitation:

Repetitive rainfall and other forms of precipitation will be one of the most critical factors resulting from climate change. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and globally water vapor increases by 7% for every degree centigrade of warming. How this will translate into changes in global precipitation is less clear, but the total volume of precipitation is likely to increase by 1-2% per degree of warming.

Tidal Flooding:

Tidal flooding, nuisance flooding, and or sunny day flooding can happen under blazing, cloudless skies and is perhaps the most tangible sign of climate change yet, say scientists. It is not new, but it is happening much more frequently due to climate change-related sea level rise, the erosion of natural coastal barriers, and land subsidence, or the gradual sinking of the ground in places where cities are built on sediments rather than bedrock. Combined, these forces push the highest of tides into coastal towns and cities, bringing floods that can close roads, overwhelm storm drains, damage infrastructure and property, and threaten public health. In the United States, the East and Gulf coasts are most vulnerable.

Storm Surge:

With the climate changing, the sea levels rising and the constant threat for tropical cyclones, densely populated areas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to storm surge flooding.

Storm Surge Vulnerability Facts:

From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level.
Over half of the Nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones.
72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7).
A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7).

The FAIR Goal:

Provide homeowners and business owners with quality flood coverage at affordable rates through a choice of private and public (NFIP) coverage options.

Solution & Legislative Request:

Advocate for a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program including provisions to support the growth of the private market.

We are committed to achievement of FEMA’s stated “moonshot” goal of doubling the number of properties covered by flood insurance by 2022. In support of this massive increase in flood coverage, we advocate for both a vibrant National Flood Insurance Program and thriving private flood insurance market.

Specific recommendations include the following:

Long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program including consumer-centric adjustments.
Provide consumers with a continuous coverage provision, recognizing coverage in-force with either NFIP or private flood policies.
Extend safe harbors to mortgage lenders to accept private flood policies if approved by state regulators.
Enforce flood policy purchase requirements for federally backed mortgages.
Authorize greater consumer education regarding flood insurance and flood risk


Provide for consumer protections regarding affordability and policy holder rights.
Support additional education for insurance agents and realtors on flood insurance best practice.