Earlier this year, Farmers Insurance sued municipal governments in and around the city of Chicago for not improving infrastructure to meet the demands that climate change puts on systems like storm drains and sewage systems. Residents and businesses in the region have been filing a steadily increasing number of claims for repeat flooding over the last few years. As the Chicago Tribune reported, the Farmers’ suit alleged that the municipalities “knew their drainage systems were inadequate and failed to take reasonable action to prevent flooding of insured properties.”
A rising tide
Farmers’ dropped the suit against municipalities in the Chicago region, but arguments like this one will only heat up in the years to come. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just released a report on nuisance flooding – flooding that causes public problems such as road closures, and compromises infrastructure. The report finds that nuisance flooding is on the rise as ocean levels increase.
Cities most at risk are coastal cities like Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland, as well as San Francisco, but inland cities near rivers and large bodies of water are also increasingly susceptible to nuisance flooding, not to mention cities that have experienced quick growth without the right kind of city planning. There are many contributing factors to nuisance flooding, and civic and regional officials need to consider infrastructure and flood planning more carefully.
Is your business at risk?
Perhaps you should take a second look at your property and your interests to see if you are under additional risk. FloodSmart.gov is an excellent resource for families and business owners. The site provides extensive information about insurance options, and also has an interesting “floodwatch” app that allows you to see flood threats by ZIP code. The site can help you understand the insurance issues that surround flooding and can also assist you in knowing what to do if you’re hit by flooding.
If you’re really worried about a particular area, check with the state university’s extension service or office in that area – extension offices are staffed with professors who know and understand the region well and they can work with you to help you understand weather and erosion patterns in the area, or work with you to answer questions you might have about building or maintaining property.
The debate can rage on about climate change, but, as the NOAA report points out, the data was collected from 45 sites where NOAA has kept water level gauges for years, and the simple fact of the matter is that water levels are higher.
If you or your business is at risk, take the time to really understand your current policies and find out if you have the right kind of coverage for all of the categories of flooding that might impact you. If you operate in a high-risk area, you may have to consider options outside of the traditional insurance market. If we can help you understand how a captive insurance company might help you, please feel free to contact us.