Insurance shouldn't subsidize development
April 17, 2009
Changing climatic conditions pose an unprecedented threat to U.S. coastlines, where the majority of Florida's residents live and much of our economic activity occurs. Sea-level rise, temperature increases, changes in the severity and strength of storms and other climate-related changes are expected to occur over the coming decades.
The need to adapt to these climate-driven changes and to better manage existing coastal risks is obvious and immediate.
According to the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, insured property values along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have roughly doubled every decade. By the end of 2007, the Gulf and Atlantic coasts had more than $9 trillion of insured coastal property.
Florida's share of that is certain to exceed many billions of dollars. We need to have Florida property insurance prices reflect the real risk of hurricanes. If we don't do this, insurance will be subsidizing coastal development.
As coastal development is intensifying, so are coastal property losses. The higher wind speeds, storm surge, flooding and erosion hazards intrinsic to coastal regions increase the likelihood of property damage, degradation of coastal ecosystems and subsequent social costs.
One way to combat these problems is by continuing programs such as My Safe Florida Home. By strengthening homes through mitigation, we can protect against the devastating effects of hurricanes and help reduce the state's exposure to catastrophic damage.
Additionally, we believe we must reign in coastal development that threatens our coastline and places the insurance burden on all Florida citizens, whether they live on the coast or not.
Jay Liles is the Florida Wildlife Federation policy advocate.
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