Homeowners Go Coastal with Mitigation Opinions

A survey finds that people living in coastal communities are more supportive of issues related to natural disaster preparedness, mitigation and insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council. But when it comes to taxpayer subsidies to support insurance coverage, public support weakens considerably.

While many coastal communities have been criticized for not having stronger building codes and restraints to limit property damage, the IRC survey suggests that coastal residents may back such measures.

According to the study, the public in all areas supports mitigation strategies. But the support is strongest among coastal residents, particularly those on the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

More than eight in 10 respondents favored government action to preserve and rebuild wetlands in coastal areas, the study found. Among those living in coastal areas, 56% strongly favored such action, compared to 38% of people living in non-coastal areas.

In coastal areas, 93% favored building codes for new homes and 88% of those from non-coastal states favored building codes. When asked what they thought if building codes would add 6% to the cost of a new home, 76% of coastal residents said they would support them, compared with 62% of respondents from non-coastal states.

However, the study found less support for "taxpayer supported" subsidies for insurance coverage. Even in coastal areas, support for taxpayer-supported insurance programs, like the National Flood Insurance Program, was considered "unfair" by 51% of respondents in coastal counties. Among residents of non-coastal states, 61% said taxpayer supported insurance was unfair, the IRC study found.

In an IRC news release, Elizabeth Sprinkel, a senior vice president at the organization, said the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 left in their wake major questions about coverage for property damage stemming from natural disasters.

"This analysis shows that the public's attitude towards many proposed changes will vary with proximity to the coastal areas that are most at risk," she said.

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