GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Tropical Storm Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico the morning of August 24, 2017. Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project

71% High Risk Homes Uninsured for Flood in Areas Impacted by Harvey

Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph, and has continued to hammer the Texas coastal and inland counties with unprecedented rainfall totals. The NHC had also issued its first-ever public storm surge warning.

Harvey is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004, and the first hurricane to land as Category 4 in Texas since Carla in 1961. However, this region is no stranger to storm surge and inland flooding, and makes Texas property owners the second largest consumer of flood insurance in the US. The 30 counties that Gov. Greg Abbott made a disaster declaration for, insures $125 Billion of the $161 Billion within the state that is insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

As a slow moving storm, Harvey’s impacts have extended well after the hurricane made landfall, with heavy rains delivered for nearly a week. Models had predicted that Harvey would come to a near halt inland, dropping over 50 inches of rain in some places. Much of this has played out. The areas inland of the Texas coast are very flat and prone to flash flooding which is further exacerbated by the already saturated soil from other recent rainfall events prior to Harvey.

We all hope for the best outcomes with emergency response operations, and recovery efforts.

Harvey has no precedent. What did we know before it made landfall?

In the 30 counties for which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made disaster declarations, there have been over 186,500 claims filed for flood losses in the history of the NFIP program paying claimants a total of over $5 billion for losses. $1.5 Billion of those losses were outside the regulated FEMA 1% annual chance flood zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). There are over 440,000 flood insurance policies in force in these counties insuring assets worth $125 Billion, and collecting about $268 million in premiums. More than 71% of homes at very high risk of flooding from events much less severe than Harvey are currently uninsured. There will be undoubtedly more uninsured homes affected in areas previously classified as moderate or low risk, given Harvey’s unprecedented and extreme nature.

The map images below provide some perspective on these potential impacts in addition to population and properties vulnerable to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. You can also access our interactive map at the bottom of the page for more statistics by Zip code within the first 30 counties with disaster declarations. Note that the FEMA SFHAs are not the only areas where there have been insurance losses in the past. Flood insurance policy penetration is very poor in many areas inland where heavy rains and associated flooding and flash flooding from Harvey are projected to incur heavy losses to property owners.

Population in FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Area

Flood Insurance Policies in Force Just Prior to Harvey’s Landfall

Uninsured Properties in High Risk Flood Zones

Past Insured Losses Outside FEMA SFHA in Harris County, TX

Past Insured Losses Within FEMA’s SFHA

Past Insured Losses Outside FEMA’s SFHA

Properties Structures Classified using our Proprietary Flood Outlook Score

In one event, 88% of reported flood losses were identified by our algorithm as high risk, while FEMA floodplains only flagged less than half of these issue properties. Ultimately, getting down to building level resolution is most ideal to personalize the risk profile and mitigation options including insurance for property owners, and enterprises that serve them.

Interactive Map with Beyond Floods Data Analytics

Hover and Click on a Zip Code of interest to access additional details.

About Syndeste

Syndeste is an Insurance Technology startup specializing in delivering high resolution data and analytics on natural hazard risks to enterprises through its platform Beyond Floods. Syndeste has evaluated historic trends in areas affected by Harvey, and the level of insurance carried by property owners as focus shifts into recovery and rebuilding. Syndeste will continue to monitor Harvey and its impacts and deliver meaningful insights to help individuals and enterprises build resilience after this unprecedented event.

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Beyond Floods

Beyond Floods

Beyond Floods provides organizations high resolution data and insights on flood risk.