Disaster Insurance

January 18, 1956

Report Outline
Demand for Federal Disaster Insurance
Extent of Disasters and Insurance Coverage
Present Provisions for Disaster Relief
Federal Government and Disaster Insurance
Special Focus

Demand for Federal Disaster Insurance

Heavy loss of life and extensive damage to property from floods in the Northeast in August and again in October 1955, and in the Far West in December, dramatized the absence of insurance protection against natural disasters. The tragedy involved in what the Red Cross has called “the worst disaster year in American history” impelled the Eisenhower administration and certain members of Congress to take steps toward developing some form of federal indemnity for losses for which commercial insurance coverage is not now available.

President Eisenhower said in his State of the Union message, Jan. 5, that “Disaster assistance legislation requires overhauling and an experimental program of flood damage indemnities should be undertaken.” The same day identical administration bills to set up a five-year, $3 billion flood indemnity and reinsurance program were introduced in the two houses of Congress by Sen. Prescott Bush (R-Conn.) and Rep. Jesse P. Wolcott (R-Mich.).

Eisenhower's Support of Flood Indemnities

Wolcott explained that the program had to be experimental and flexible because the problems involved were novel and complex and the government lacked experience in the field. Bush said the administration bill sought to provide a “sound, workable program of flood indemnity and reinsurance which the people will be able to purchase at reasonable cost.” He asserted that a plan limited to flood coverage stood the best chance of adoption; to include protection against other forms of disaster, he contended, would make for “socialistic competition with private enterprise” and render the program too cumbersome to handle.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Disasters and Preparedness
Sep. 04, 2020  Pandemic Preparedness
Jan. 12, 2018  Disaster Readiness
Sep. 22, 2017  Climate Change and National Security
Aug. 02, 2013  Preparing for Disaster
Jun. 25, 2010  Offshore Drilling
Feb. 03, 2006  Rebuilding New Orleans
Nov. 18, 2005  Disaster Preparedness Updated
Dec. 16, 1994  Earthquake Research
Oct. 15, 1993  Disaster Response
Jul. 15, 1988  Slow Progress in Earthquake Prediction
Apr. 12, 1985  Tornadoes
Jul. 16, 1976  Earthquake Forecasting
Mar. 19, 1969  Earthquakes: Causes and Consequences
Aug. 22, 1962  Government Stockpiling
Jan. 18, 1956  Disaster Insurance
Mar. 06, 1952  Mobilization for a Prolonged Emergency
Jul. 01, 1950  Stand-By Laws for War
Jan. 09, 1928  Economic Effects of the Mississippi Flood
May 19, 1927  Mississippi River Flood Relief and Control
Insurance Industry
Natural Disasters