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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Barriers to Adaptation in Action

On October 1, reforms to the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) took effect. Those reforms were initiated by Congress in 2012 due the growing hole that insurance subsidies were digging in the federal budget and they seek to eliminate the subsidies to property owners by setting insurance premiums at rates that reflect the actual risk. This comes after many years of criticism of the NFIP for incentivizing development in at-risk areas and generally creating a moral hazard at the public's expense. Now that the reforms have been implemented, property owners (along with real estate agents) are up in arms at the increase in their insurance premiums and lobbying has already commenced in earnest to get Congress to delay implementation. Apparently, even one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Maxine Waters is now lamenting the "outrageous" increase in premiums triggered by the reforms. Yet, it seems like those increases are, in fact, exactly what the reforms were designed to achieve. Delaying them would only seem to delay the behavioral change needed to enable a more equitable distribution of risk.

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