The National Flood Insurance Program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Unlike other forms of homeowners’ insurance, the government pays roughly 80 private insurance companies’ fees to sell policies and settle claims. The premiums from those policies are meant to cover losses, but when a disaster becomes too costly, the taxpayers, not the insurers, make up the difference. When Superstorm Sandy struck, the program was nearly $18 billion in the red.
The timeline below shows how storms since 1900 led to the creation of the current program.