How It Works: The NFIP is administered by FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security. Flood insurance was initially only available through insurance agents who dealt directly with the federal program. The direct policy program has been supplemented since 1983 with a private/public cooperative arrangement, known as "Write Your Own," through which a pool of insurance companies issue policies and adjust flood claims on behalf of the federal government under their own names, charging the same premium as the direct program. Participating insurers receive an expense allowance for policies written and claims processed. The federal government retains responsibility for underwriting losses. Today, most policies are issued through the Write-Your-Own program but some non-federally backed coverage is available from the private market.
Nationwide, only 20% of American homes at risk for floods are covered by flood insurance.Most private insurers do not insure against the peril of flood due to the prevalence of adverse selection, which is the purchase of insurance by persons most affected by the specific peril of flood. In traditional insurance, insurers use the economic law of large numbers to charge a relatively small fee to large numbers of people in order to pay the claims of the small numbers of claimants who have suffered a loss.
Unfortunately, in flood insurance, the numbers of claimants is larger than the available number of persons interested in protecting their property from the peril, which means that most private insurers view the probability of generating a profit from providing flood insurance as being remote.However, there are insurers such as PURE, Chubb, AIG/Chartis, and Fireman's Fund that do provide privately written primary flood insurance for high value homes and The Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program underwritten by Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's which provides private primary flood insurance on both low value and high value buildings.
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