November 17, 2022 – Austin, Texas – The FINREP Texas Forum kicked off its inaugural conference with approximately 40 people from the insurance industry in Texas. The opening session set the stage for goals for the conference: Education and Collaboration.
Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Division Chief, Joshua Bryant, updated the attendees with facts on the storms in Texas. Since 1953, Texas has recorded 102 major disasters. They are tied for the most major disasters for the same period across the United States, which equals one major disaster every eight months. In addition, Texas has had 18 Emergency Disasters and 251 Fire Management and Suppression Disasters for a total of 371 total disasters since 1953.
Currently, the Recovery and Mitigation grants across the State of Texas include 49 open grants, over 1,800 grant applications, over 6,300 open projects, and a total project value of $22.7 billion.
TDEM believes that every day is recovery day and that Hurricane Harvey made them a better team. Because of Harvey, TDEM includes recovery and mitigation experts in all state-level disaster responses and preparedness activities.
Their biggest message is still, “Insure yourselves.” With individual assistance, TDEM is focused on the State’s fiscal capacity and resource availability, the uninsured homes and personal property losses, the disaster-impacted population profile, the impact on community infrastructure, casualties, and disaster-related unemployment. Insuring yourself is the best way to help your family recover quickly from disasters.
For the State to receive a Major Declaration for Public Assistance (PA), two fiscal thresholds must be met:
- The state threshold of $51,587,544
- Each county must meet their individual threshold
Thresholds are adjusted each October and are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the latest official census (2020). The current population is 29 million, and there are 254 counties in Texas.
TDEM has launched an iSTAT and a pSTAT tool for virtual, hybrid, and in-person PDAs (Preliminary Damage Assessments), which provide speed, flexibility, and increased buy-in from the local jurisdictions. The sharing of pertinent details and photos of damages assists emergency management officials in quickly determining the severity of a disaster. It also helps determine if the federal thresholds for assistance have been met. This tool uses a QR code to capture and submit the information. TDEM can then operate from a dashboard with a variety of data and numbers, which speeds up the decision-making process.
TDEM is reminding people to always plan ahead for disasters. Federal assistance is not a substitute for insurance. FEMA may limit funding if the insurance policy provides coverage that should be pursued. An applicant must ensure facilities with the types and extent of insurance reasonably available, adequate, and necessary to protect against future loss to the property. If the applicant does not comply with the requirement to obtain and maintain insurance, FEMA will deny the funds.
With respect to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), TDEM aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures by providing federally backed flood insurance in high, medium, and low-risk areas. A little-known fact is that flood loss history reports for properties can be requested by the current homeowners and should be disclosed to potential buyers. Once a property floods, flood insurance is then required in order to be covered for any future claims.
TDEM stated that the average flood damage could cost more than $25,000 with just one inch of water in a home, so flood insurance can be the difference between recovery and financial devastation. Flooding is the most expensive and common natural disaster in the U.S., and the average FEMA payout is $5,000.
An example of how this looks with real numbers is below:
During Hurricane Harvey flood claims, individuals eligible for the FEMA individuals and house program were 373,589 for $1.6 billion. The National Flood Insurance Program applications totaled 76,000 claims that were paid out $9 billion.
The average county in Texas has 1.4% of the population covered with flood insurance. While FEMA pays out a max of $41,000 for flooding, the average payout is between $3,000-$6,000. Meanwhile, flood insurance policies can be purchased to cover up to $250,000 for structural damage and $100,000 for contents damage.
Some key takeaways from TDEM:
- Be prepared
- Insure yourselves
- Consider flood insurance