Harvey, Irma, and the NFIP: Did the 2017 Hurricane Season Matter to Flood Insurance Reauthorization?

33 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018 Last revised: 29 Mar 2018

Date Written: February 23, 2018


The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has become a coastal hurricane insurance program — a fact that is bankrupting it. As a result of climate change, the ocean surrounding the United States is both rising and becoming warmer, and hurricanes and other coastal storms are projected to become both more frequent and more destructive. While no particular hurricane can yet be blamed exclusively on climate change, these projections nevertheless have real implications for the future of the NFIP.

In 2017, Congress was gearing up to reauthorize the NFIP just as the United States entered its worst hurricane season in over a decade. This Article examines how hurricanes and other coastal storms have affected the NFIP, both in terms of it solvency and its potential goals. Specifically, after reviewing the NFIP’s history and its interactions with coastal hurricanes and storms, the Article explores the process of re-authorizing the NFIP in 2017 and 2018 while the United States was suffering through Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It concludes that Congress is showing some signs of reforming the NFIP to take account of the increasing vulnerability of coastal properties but that the NFIP could do much more to promote climate change adaptability.

Keywords: National Flood Insurance Program, reauthorization, hurricanes, climate change, Harvey, Irma, Maria

Suggested Citation

Craig, Robin Kundis, Harvey, Irma, and the NFIP: Did the 2017 Hurricane Season Matter to Flood Insurance Reauthorization? (February 23, 2018). University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, Forthcoming, University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 249, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3129088

Robin Kundis Craig (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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