Not Flood Insurance, Disaster Insurance

 My husband and I saving what we can after the 2016 flood

My husband and I saving what we can after the 2016 flood

Everyone who drives has some risk of getting in a car accident, therefore everyone needs to have car insurance to protect them in the case of an accident. Some have a greater risk than others, and car insurance is priced accordingly. Since everyone is supposed to have insurance, the massive pool keeps prices down.

Similarly, everyone who owns property has a disaster risk. Whether it’s flooding in Louisiana, wildfires in California, mudslides in California, earthquakes in California, or most recently, volcano eruptions in Hawaii, everyone is at risk of losing everything to a disaster. When insurance doesn’t cover our losses, it is up to Congress to help us and we’ve seen what that help looks like. Leaving our recovery up to politicians allows them to play politics with our lives. Even when they do set aside some money, we have seen that in the time it takes for those funds to reach us another storm can strike sending us back to square one.

Last Thursday, when Kilauea volcano erupted in Hawaii, many homeowners were left asking themselves a question that we in Louisiana are familiar with: “Am I covered for this?” For most who have lost their homes in the eruption, the answer was no. The only people who are covered are those with insurance that covers every kind of damage possible, which is extremely rare. This is the same problem we face in Louisiana and across the country: disasters are inevitable but rarely covered.

Disasters happen every year all over the country. Instead of a patchwork of insurance companies, gridlocked Congressional grants, and states having to reinvent the wheel with each disaster, we should have a single Disaster Insurance Program. Every property owner should pay premiums based on their total disaster risk and thus get the help they need automatically. With everyone paying in, the premiums should be relatively affordable, but they would still vary to reflect actual risk. So if you live in California with all of the wildfires, blizzards, mudslides, earthquakes, floods, and droughts, that happen there you might pay a little more and if you live in Louisiana where it just rains a lot you will probably pay less.

As your next Congressman, one of my top priorities will be advocating for this Disaster Insurance Program. We know disasters will happen. Instead of waiting to react to the next one let’s be ready for the disasters that will come tomorrow and beyond.