Dozens of people died during Hurricane Ian last month. Estimates for the repairing the damage the storm did to Florida and South Carolina range from $30 to $65 billion. As Mississippi’s coastal residents know, it will take years for Floridians to put their homes and their lives back together.
Unfortunately, Ian is probably just the first punch Mother Nature throws during the 2022 storm season. This comes on the heels of a string of tough years for property owners and the insurance companies that protect them. Insurance payouts from 2017 totaled over $300 billion. Even though the financial hits in intervening years haven’t been as heavy, the number of named storm systems has increased, which suggests that people who live in coastal areas will, ultimately, experience more and more difficulty in living there safely.
This means insurance premiums for coastal housing will continue to rise, probably steeply, which will make it difficult for middle class home owners to afford staying where they are. Should the government try to mitigate these costs to make it possible for families to live on the coast? Or should we allow the market to take over–even if it means middle class families move farther and farther away from their roots and their workplaces? Are there other options to consider?