As the potential cost of the next big disaster rises, the case for government intervention is getting stronger. It's true that homeowners who live in low-risk areas shouldn't have to pay for coverage on homes built near fault lines or the coast, but the fact is more than half of Americans are now living in those areas. Leaving them to fend for themselves while private insurance rates go up to unaffordable levels -- if coverage is available at all -- may be too great a risk to ignore. The trick will be to help without encouraging more building in danger-prone areas.

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