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Problems with flood insurance have been mounting for years.

The National Flood Insurance Program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is more than $20 billion in debt. Recent changes to the way premiums are calculated have had unintended consequences, particularly in Hampton Roads

Last year, Norfolk nonprofit RISE Resilience Innovations decided to make the issue the focus of its latest funding challenge. The organization gives out money to small businesses that propose solutions to environmental issues.

The goal of the recent challenge, called Flood Insurance of the Future, is to cut insurance premiums and payouts in half, working with private insurers as well as the NFIP.

“There’s a gap in flood insurance,” RISE executive director Paul Robinson told WHRO last year. “The flood insurance programs that are generally available are not funded well enough to fully recover those homeowners or those property owners that are badly affected by flood.”

RISE has announced five winners of the challenge who will now pilot their solutions in Hampton Roads, which has the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast.

  • Ric plans to test a community-based insurance model known as “parametric insurance.” Homeowners would pay $14 monthly with no deductible. A flood event would automatically trigger a $10,000 payout within two days.
  • National Flood Experts is a Tampa-based engineering firm that specializes in reducing flood risk for homeowners. The company hopes to build a scalable platform to allow city officials and residents to more easily calculate their flood insurance premiums, which have become more unpredictable under the recent national changes.
  • Plover Parametric uses software to help insurers design new products cheaper and faster. With RISE, the company plans to design flood insurance that benefits residents and localities and that is driven by specific weather events.
  • reThought Insurance focuses on helping insurers “profitably innovate in the flood market.” Flooding is one of the most difficult perils to underwrite, the group says on its website. ReThought’s RISE project will test how to better price and assess flood risk to allow more property owners to get insurance.
  • True Flood Risk uses its risk management software to instantly estimate a building’s structural height and produce flood risk reports and mitigation strategies for more than 250 million properties worldwide. The company hopes to further its capabilities to produce current and future damage estimates that support insurance.

Each group will receive up to $300,000 to test their solutions through the end of this year, pending progress along the way.