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With as many as 50 percent of U.S. property owners uninsured or underinsured in areas deemed “high risk” for floods, there is a significant need to increase awareness and education on homeowner flood insurance to ensure greater resilience to flood hazards.
On March 2, 2017, the National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology held its first in-person engagement of the year, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Roundtable, in support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Flood Apex program. The roundtable gathered information from a diverse group of flood experts and practitioners to identify decision support tools, research and development investments and data solutions that would help meet the Flood Apex’s program objective of reducing uninsured losses.
Fifteen participants representing a diverse set of perspectives attended the Homeowner Flood Insurance Roundtable. They included representatives from the insurance industry, home builder industry, real estate industry, mortgage lending industry, academia, the state floodplain manager’s association, DHS S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
After an overview of S&T’s research on the challenges homeowners face when deciding whether to purchase or continue a flood insurance policy, the roundtable discussion focused on gathering information from participants on several topics:
- What solutions, strategies and innovations (e.g., tools and data) would help address homeowner flood insurance challenges?
- What data and capabilities are needed to support solutions?
- What are the barriers to implementation of these solutions and strategies to overcome these barriers?
The group generated a variety of potential solutions to address homeowner flood insurance challenges, including:
- Increasing accessibility to data sets that could help alleviate expenses homeowners face when purchasing insurance;
- Allowing private insurers to expand into the flood insurance market;
- Targeting the use of specific tools, such as interactive web-based tools, to help homeowners understand their flood risk better; and
- Testing and analyzing insurance retention strategies.
Participants also discussed several barriers to the implementation of these solutions, including those related to privacy, technical complexity and communication. According to Dr. David Alexander, the S&T FRG Flood Apex Program Manager, “Participants were engaged and conversations were productive… Observations from this event will be very useful to FRG and the Flood Apex program.”
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Roundtable was just the first of several engagements that the National Conversation will host in 2017 to support the Flood Apex program’s objectives. The National Conversation is planning additional stakeholder engagement activities to address commercial flood insurance, flood insurance for public and private infrastructure, and discuss potential solutions to help individuals and communities more effectively implement mitigation investments. Information gathered from these roundtables will help inform the Flood Apex Program’s future R&D investment priorities.
To participate in the conversation, please visit the National Conversation’s online platform to add to the discussion and pose any questions you may have about flood insurance and other flood resilience issues. Everyone is encouraged to participate!