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How climate change factors into home insurance pricing

This aerial view shows a flooded neighborhood in Pajaro, California.
This aerial view shows a flooded neighborhood in Pajaro, California.

Natural disasters come with heavy costs. The most important one is human life. But there’s a monetary price to be paid, too.

In 2021, the structural damage from wildfires, floods, and other climate-related disasters totaled $145 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Homeowners are feeling the effects. Between 2021 and 2022, 90 percent of them saw an increase in their home insurance premiums, according to a Policygenius report.

The states that saw the steepest increases were areas prone to severe weather, places like Arkansas, Texas, and Colorado. 

Earlier this month, Colorado Democrats introduced a bill that would offer homeowners state-run insurance if private companies declined to cover them. The move comes in response to the growing wildfire risk in the state.  

Dozens of states already have similar programs. But state insurance is often more expensive and offers limited coverage. 

What right do people have to homeowner’s insurance, particularly in high-risk areas? Is insurance the answer to a worsening climate problem? And at what point does someone decide the price of living in a place is just too high? 

We get into these questions and more. If you’d like to calculate the environmental risks of your property, you can use the Risk Factor tool from First Street Foundation.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame