Journal Article

Flood Risk Perceptions and Insurance Choice: Do Decisions in the Floodplain Reflect Overoptimism?

Nov 20, 2018 | Andrew Royal, Margaret A. Walls


In the presence of rare disasters, risk perceptions may not always align with actual risks. These perceptions can nevertheless influence an individual's willingness to mitigate risks through activities such as purchasing flood insurance. In a survey of Maryland floodplain residents, we find that stated risk perceptions predict voluntary flood insurance take‐up, while perceptions themselves varied widely among surveyed residents, owing in large part to differences in past flood experience. We use a formal test for overoptimism in risk perceptions and find that, on aggregate, floodplain residents are overly optimistic about flood risks.