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Many Hurricane Matthew Victims Lack Flood Insurance

The storm killed at least 43 people in the United States.
Many Hurricane Matthew Victims Lack Flood Insurance
October 19, 2016

Many victims of Hurricane Matthew do not have flood insurance. As of August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said only 19 percent of homeowners in Florida, 2 percent in Georgia, 9 percent in South Carolina, and 5 percent in North Carolina had flood insurance—all states struck in September by Hurricane Matthew. Matthew sideswiped Florida and Georgia before blowing ashore briefly in South Carolina and then unloading more than a foot of rain on North Carolina, where it triggered disastrous flooding. Overall, the storm killed at least 43 people in the United States — 26 of them in North Carolina — with most deaths caused by flooding.

Even in high-risk flood zones, the rate of flood insurance in those states ranged from just 25 percent to 65 percent. Flooding most often occurs outside designated hazard areas, which was the case in South Carolina in 2015 and this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Federal data indicates that flood claims have averaged more than $1.9 billion per year since 2006. AIR Worldwide, the catastrophe-modeling firm, estimates that insurers may pay as much as $8.8 billion for the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew. Ordinary homeowner insurance typically covers wind damage — torn-off roofs, fallen trees — but not flooding.

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