This setting lets you change the way you view articles. You can choose to have articles open in a dialog window, a new tab, or directly in the same window.
Open in Dialog
Open in New Tab
Open in same window

Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 24 No. 4 (Fall 2010)

Expand

Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter

Explore:

JEP - All Issues


Catastrophe Economics: The National Flood Insurance Program

Article Citation

Michel-Kerjan, Erwann O. 2010. "Catastrophe Economics: The National Flood Insurance Program." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(4): 165-86.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.4.165

Abstract

Hurricane Betsy, which hit Louisiana September 9, 1965, was one of the most intense, deadly, and costly storms ever to make landfall in the United States: it killed 76 people in Louisiana and caused $1.5 billion in damage—equal to nearly $10 billion in 2010 dollars. In 1965, no flood insurance was available, so victims had to rely on friends and family, charities, or federal relief. After that catastrophe, the U.S. government established a new program in 1968—the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—to make flood insurance widely available. Now, after more than 40 years of operation, the NFIP is today one of the longest standing government-run disaster insurance programs in the world. In this paper, I present an overview of the 40 years of operation of the National Flood Insurance Program, starting with how and why it was created and how it has evolved to now cover $1.23 trillion in assets. I analyze the financial balance of the NFIP between 1969 and 2008. Excluding the 2005 hurricane season (which included Hurricane Katrina) as an outlier, policyholders have paid nearly $11 billion more in premiums than they have received in claim reimbursements over that period. However, the program has spent an average of 40 percent of all collected premiums on administrative expenses, more than three quarters of which were paid to private insurance intermediaries who sell and manage flood insurance policies on behalf of the federal government but do not bear any risk. I present challenges the NFIP faces today and propose ways those challenges might be overcome through innovative modifications.

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article (Complimentary)

Authors

Michel-Kerjan, Erwann O. (U PA and Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

JEL Classifications

G22: Insurance; Insurance Companies
Q54: Climate; Natural Disasters; Global Warming
Q58: Environmental Economics: Government Policy

Comments

View Comments on This Article (0) | Login to post a comment


Journal of Economic Perspectives


Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)

Explore:

JEP - All Issues

Virtual Field Journals


AEA Member Login:


AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us