La. senators blast FEMA flood insurance price hikes as a ‘disastrous death spiral’

Controversial FEMA changes to flood insurance program
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 12:58 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2021 at 12:23 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Both Louisiana senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, have come out against FMEA’s new Risk Rating 2.0 system, which has increased the price of flood insurance for thousands in Louisiana.

Kennedy (R-La.) wrote an op-ed criticizing the rating system. Cassidy (R-La.) made statements on the Senate floor blasting President Joe Biden and his administration for not stepping in.

“Like many coastal states, Louisiana sometimes has floods, which is why roughly 500,000 Louisianans depend on the National Flood Insurance Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to protect them from these natural disasters,” Kennedy wrote. “But now FEMA is implementing a new plan that will price its flood insurance well beyond the means of most Louisianans and other Americans.”

According to FEMA’s estimates, Risk Rating 2.0 will lead to higher insurance rates for roughly 80% of Louisianans. Some Louisiana homeowners are facing a $20 per month increase.

Over 340,000 or 69.2% of insured homeowners in Louisiana will see an increase up to $10 per month. Around 10% of homeowners will see more expensive rate changes. Over 17,000 homeowners will pay $20 per month or more under the new Risk Rating.

“What good is flood insurance if no one can afford it?” Kennedy asked.

“Congress never passed a bill requiring that FEMA implement this. President Biden could have stopped it, he alone was responsible. He should have asked FEMA to delay implementation of Risk Rating 2.0 or reconsider altogether,” Dr. Cassidy said on the Senate floor.

Analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that roughly 900,000 policyholders, or one-fifth of all policyholders, will drop out of the program of the next ten years.

“This isn’t a Louisiana issue. Risk Rating 2.0 applies nationwide and will impact those living on all our coasts. There are bipartisan, from both parties, calling for the administration to halt Risk Rating 2.0,” continued Dr. Cassidy. “At the end of the day, flood insurance must be affordable and accessible for the homeowner, accountable to the taxpayer, and sustainable for the future.”

Higher rates began on Oct.1 for new NFIP policies and will take effect on April 1, 2022, for existing policyholders, despite Louisiana politicians asking for a delayed start date.

“There are calls, from both parties, for the Biden Administration to halt Risk Rating 2.0,” Cassidy said.

“FEMA’s timing in rolling out its plan is terrible. This May, historic rainfall caused widespread flooding in southern Louisiana, hurting areas that Hurricanes Laura and Delta already damaged. More than 12 inches of rain fell on Lake Charles alone. Thousands of homes and businesses lost power,” the article continues. “Just weeks ago, Nicholas came right on the heels of Hurricane Ida, soaking parts of southeastern Louisiana with up to a foot of rain. More than half of our state was under a flood alert. Hurricane season isn’t even over yet. Now is not the time to gut the NFIP like a fish.”

“It’s disgraceful that FEMA is now pushing through Risk Rating 2.0 without congressional approval or public input. FEMA’s process in developing its new edict has been opaque and undemocratic,” Kennedy says. “Louisianians and other Americans who choose to be prudent by insuring against the risk of flood deserve a say over such a significant change to their flood insurance.”

Kennedy concluded by saying he hopes FEMA will “regain its sanity” and stop the “disastrous” plan.

“Until they do, I’m going to oppose Risk Rating 2.0 like a hound from hell, no matter how much FEMA wants to deny the asininity of the program,” Kennedy said.

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