Insurance: Flood damage in Texas could top $1 billion, experts say,
Experts said Thursday that flooding across Texas could lead to insurance claims of more than $1.1 billion, topping the amount paid to policyholders in 2001 after the damage caused by Tropical Storm Allison.
About 30,000 claims were filed after Tropical Storm Allison, and it is too early to know how many claims will be filed as a result of the recent flooding, said insurance industry officials including Lynne McChristian, a spokeswoman for the industry-supported nonprofit Insurance Information Institute.
But even if there are fewer claims, the pricetag could be higher than with Tropi- cal Storm Allison because of greater population density and increased construction costs, she said.
“Just a little bit of flood damage can lead to costly repairs in a home,” said McChristian, who has been touring affected areas in Harris County.
The National Flood Insurance Program, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, writes virtually all the flood policies in the U.S. But there is a limit. The program, often referred to as NFIP, allows for a structure be insured for $250,000 and its contents for $100,000. Sometimes homeowners and businesses purchase supplemental coverage from private carriers, McChristian said.
Texas has the second-highest number of federal flood policies in effect with 597,951 policies worth $157 billion, behind only Florida, according to federal figures. The typical NFIP policyholder in Texas pays $627 a year.
Most of the policies in Texas are written in Harris County. Houston’s home county has 246,646 NFIP policies, or 41 percent of all policies in the state, federal number show.
In Hays County, there are 987 NFIP policies, worth $253.5 million. Breaking it down further, Wimberley has 166 NFIP policies in effect, valued at $39.5 million.
Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Texas Insurance Council, said Thursday that it was unclear how many of the destroyed properties in Texas were insured.
Those people without in- surance could get some federal relief, but only if Texas is considered a federal disaster area.
To get the designation, Gov. Greg Abbott would have to request it. But it is not clear if the federal government would make the declaration.
President Barack Obama said Thursday that federal, state and local respondents have been working well together. But he added: “They appear to have the assets they need at this stage to respond.”
On Thursday, FEMA extended the 60-day “proof of loss deadline.” The agency said customers now have 240 days after the date of loss to provide proof of it.