Thousands of Harris County families opting out of flood insurance despite risk of home flooding

ByDerrick Lewis KTRK logo
Friday, November 4, 2022
Thousands of Harris County families opting out of flood insurance despite risk of home flooding as FEMA increases rates
For many people, flood insurance is another bill they can't afford.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- New data reveals that many people are opting out of flood insurance despite the risk of severe rain happening at any time in southeast Texas.

The cost of flood insurance has increased for thousands of families in Harris County after Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implemented new rates.

For many people, it's another bill they can't afford.

Charles Smith has taken on new problems since his family members passed their house down to him.

"It's miserable living like I am now," Smith said.

Flooding has left his house ruined, and Smith cannot invest in flood insurance despite the home sitting in a flood zone.

"It might be too expensive," said Smith. "Think about it man. It's probably too expensive."

In 2021, FEMA changed the way it calculates flood insurance rates. The new method focuses on a property's flood risk, like the history of floods in the area, distance to a water source, and the cost to rebuild.

The agency says the new rates would be less expensive for some homeowners. However, according to our partners at the Houston Chronicle, 91% of Harris County homeowners with FEMA policies saw an increase.

QuoteWizard, an organization that analyzes flood insurance, found that nearly 45,000 homeowners dropped their coverage within the last year.

"It can be financially devastating if your house floods," ABC13's chief meteorologist Travis Herzog said.

He said Houstonians like Smith can be faced with a huge burden without insurance.

"Just one inch of water coming into your home is not going to threaten your life but it could ruin you financially because it could do tens of thousands of dollars in damage," Herzog said.

He said flooding can happen year round and recommends flood insurance.

"If you can afford it, it is worth it because you're far more likely to experience flooding than any other kind of home disaster," Herzog said.

Smith wants insurance but is waiting on promises from the government to rebuild his house.

"Soon as they send me my money, then I'll get settled, and get my house fixed, then I can get some insurance," Smith said. "Right now, I can't, man."

Herzog suggests families look into private insurance that could come out to be cheaper.

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