It has been two years since the floods of March 2010, when many homes and businesses that were devastated carried no flood insurance.
And according to the numbers, as well as testimony from insurance agents, there has not been a “mad rush,” as one industry insider put it, since then to go buy flood insurance.
Yes, from February 2010 to February 2012, there was a 7.1 percent increase in the number of flood-insurance policies purchased in Rhode Island.
That increase shows prudence on the part of some property owners.
But it is difficult to imagine that only 3.2 percent of the estimated 500,000 homes and businesses in the Ocean State is adequate coverage for the next natural disaster that drives water levels up to rare, and dangerous, levels.
Since 2012, the federal government has put new rules in place that cut off future assistance to homeowners who take federal help to rebuild in flood-prone areas and then don’t buy insurance. This is a sensible governmental response to the very real moral hazard that exists. Woe be to the politician or bureaucrat who refuses to help victims of a natural disaster, thus leaving the rest of the citizenry and businesses to pay for the free-riding behavior of their neighbors.
But with 14 percent of Rhode Island’s land considered flood-prone by state and federal maps, and a 2015 revision of those maps likely to increase that percentage, the number of flood- insurance policies still seems low.
It’s time for more property owners to make a realistic assessment of their disaster risk and do the right thing, for their, and everyone else’s, sake.
march 2010 floods