Attorney General fight against FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 continues

Rather than go by flood zones like in the past, Risk Rating 2.0 assesses your individual property instead.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rather than go by flood zones like in the past, Risk Rating 2.0 assesses your individual property instead. FEMA says flood frequency, storm surge, rainfall, and coastal erosion are all taken into account and factored into your new premiums. Attorney General Jeff Landry and his office believe the new method will eventually make your premiums go up, calling it unlawful and unfair to policy holders.

Today, a federal judge in New Orleans heard arguments in their lawsuit as well as testimony from folks who say they can no longer afford their premiums.

“It hurts us, and the judge should block it and if he can’t block it in its entirety then he should at least do certain things that he can do to make it better for people,” said Solicitor General Liz Murrill.

Instead of paying hundreds for insurance, the Attorney General’s Office believes your premiums could reach the thousands in the near future. Those against Risk Rating 2.0 say it fails to protect policy holders, recognize mitigation efforts, and imposes unaffordable costs which will drive more of you out of the insurance pool.

“We have conversations everyday with our residents and what they’re seeing are these unaffordable flood insurance rates,” said St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell.

Both the Attorney General and Solicitor General are leading the litigation efforts on behalf of at least 10 states, 43 parishes, 12 levee boards, and 2 municipalities. But not everyone is totally against it. One local insurance agent says one of their clients actually saw their rate go down.

“I have a customer who saw it was about $1,900 the previous year and it went down to about $450 the next year with the new rating,” said Melanie Bailey, an insurance agent in Gonzales.

One of the biggest complaints from opposition is the lack of transparency in how FEMA calculates rates under their new method. And although, overall, Melanie views the new method as a fairer way to adjust premiums, she understands where the concern is. Especially in suburban areas where development has contributed to insufficient draining.

“There is a lack of transparency as far as how rates may be impacted in the future,” added Melanie.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says answering that question has been anything but easy. Adding this lawsuit is, in his view, a last act out of frustration in asking for a straightforward answer.

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