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Pricing Flood Insurance: How and Why the NFIP Differs from a Private Insurance Company


  • Kousky, Carolyn

    (Resources for the Future)

  • Shabman, Leonard

    (Resources for the Future)


Flood insurance in the United States is offered through the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). After going deeply into debt following the 2005 hurricane season, pricing in the program has been the subject of debate and two reform bills. Private sector insurance pricing has often been used as a benchmark in these discussions. In this paper, we explain NFIP pricing in the context of actuarial pricing principles, clarify why some polices are priced below what is considered to be the full risk rate, and explain how and, more importantly, why NFIP pricing practices differ from the private sector. NFIP pricing has incorporated other program goals that are at times at odds with the ability to cover all payouts for insured losses without taxpayer support. These multiple programmatic goals make the private sector a questionable analog for the NFIP.

Suggested Citation

  • Kousky, Carolyn & Shabman, Leonard, 2014. "Pricing Flood Insurance: How and Why the NFIP Differs from a Private Insurance Company," Discussion Papers dp-14-37, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-14-37

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Hartwig & Greg Niehaus & Joseph Qiu, 2020. "Insurance for economic losses caused by pandemics," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 45(2), pages 134-170, September.
    2. Xiao Lin, 2020. "Risk awareness and adverse selection in catastrophe insurance: Evidence from California’s residential earthquake insurance market," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 43-65, August.
    3. Carolyn Kousky, 2017. "Disasters as Learning Experiences or Disasters as Policy Opportunities? Examining Flood Insurance Purchases after Hurricanes," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 37(3), pages 517-530, March.
    4. Benjamin L. Collier & Daniel Schwartz & Howard C. Kunreuther & Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, 2017. "Risk Preferences in Small and Large Stakes: Evidence from Insurance Contract Decisions," NBER Working Papers 23579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Benjamin L. Collier & Marc A. Ragin, 2020. "The Influence of Sellers on Contract Choice: Evidence from Flood Insurance," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 87(2), pages 523-557, June.
    6. Georgic, Will C. & Klaiber, Allen, 2018. "Identifying the Costs to Homeowners of Eliminating NFIP Subsidies," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274444, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Bakkensen, Laura A. & Ma, Lala, 2020. "Sorting over flood risk and implications for policy reform," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    8. Justin Tyndall, 2021. "Sea Level Rise and Home Prices: Evidence from Long Island," Working Papers 2021-2, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
    9. Dinan, Terry, 2017. "Projected Increases in Hurricane Damage in the United States: The Role of Climate Change and Coastal Development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 186-198.

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    flood insurance; rate-setting; NFIP; premiums;
    All these keywords.

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