Estimating Pluvial Depth-Damage Functions for Areas Within the United States Using Historical Claims Data

30 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Jeremy R. Porter

Jeremy R. Porter

City University of New York; Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health; First Street Foundation

Date Written: January 15, 2021


Flooding has been the most costly natural disaster over the past two decades within the United
States. Therefore, recent research has focused on more accurately predicting economic losses
from flooding to aid decision makers and mitigate economic exposure. For this, depth-damage
functions have commonly been employed to predict the relative or absolute damage to buildings
caused by different magnitudes of flooding. While depth-damage functions, such as those
adopted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, are widely available for fluvial and
coastal flooding, less work has been done to develop functions for pluvial induced flooding.
Here, we use a database containing 13.5 million claims to develop pluvial depth-damage
functions. For this, recently released flood hazard data are utilized to identify claims within the
database that are likely related to pluvial flooding. We employed two types of regression models
to fit the depth-damage functions. Secondarily, we developed an AVM model to estimate
building values across the state of New Jersey. These building values were then combined with
flood hazard layers in order to apply the depth-damage functions and compute an aggregate
annualized loss for New Jersey. The results indicate moderate agreement between the observed
damage within the state of New Jersey and that computed by applying the study-developed
depth-damage curves to buildings within the state using pluvial flood hazard layers. It is
anticipated that the depth-damage functions developed by this research will aid future work in
more accurately quantifying the economic risks associated with flooding across the United

Keywords: Economic Assessment; Flood; Climate; Property Value

Suggested Citation

Porter, Jeremy R., Estimating Pluvial Depth-Damage Functions for Areas Within the United States Using Historical Claims Data (January 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jeremy R. Porter (Contact Author)

City University of New York ( email )

365 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10026
United States

Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health ( email )

600 West 168th St., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

First Street Foundation ( email )

Brooklyn, NY 11203

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