Monday, July 14, 2008

National Catastrophe Fund

When we relocated to the West Palm Beach area from Connecticut, it was with the knowledge that while the area was vulnerable to hurricanes, they didn’t seem to be more frequent than what we had been accustomed to in the northeast. (The last one to hit the West Palm Beach area before we moved was Hurricane David in 1979. Hurricane Gloria in 1985 was a worse storm in Connecticut.)

So with this false sense of security we retired to a home within a mile of the coast and were able to get relatively reasonably priced insurance. Since then our overall insurance costs have tripled, mostly because of the obsolete boundaries that determine the windstorm component, such as homes east of I95 being exponentially more vulnerable than those a stone’s throw to the west. While Hurricanes Charley and Wilma surely dispelled that myth, these artificial guidelines persist.

The recent tragic flooding in Iowa, not to mention the torrid tornado season, and wildfires in the west, underscore the need for a national catastrophe fund to more effectively deal with the economic consequences of these disasters, ones that seem to be more frequent, perhaps the consequence of global warming.

Such a fund combined with tax breaks, similar to the ones that were granted to victims of Katrina and Wilma, might mitigate unrestrained insurance costs, and the expenses that will surely do in victims of national disasters. Had we not poured more than a half a trillion dollars into an unnecessary war in Iraq, we could be a long way towards creating a national catastrophe fund, not to mention saving American lives.