In 2019, FEMA said it would instead price flood insurance based on the particular risks facing each individual property, a change the agency called “Risk Rating 2.0.” After a delay by the Trump administration, the new system takes effect next month for people purchasing flood insurance. For existing customers, rates will rise starting next April.
The change has won applause from a grab bag of advocacy groups, including climate resilience experts, environmentalists, the insurance industry and the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“With a rapidly escalating threat of natural disasters, Risk Rating 2.0 is a much needed and timely change,” said Laura Lightbody of Pew Charitable Trusts, which has pushed governments to better respond to climate threats. Higher insurance costs, she said, were “a reflection of our new, wet reality.”
But the financial consequences of that new reality will be staggering for some communities.
The flood program insures 3.4 million single-family homes around the country. For 2.4 million of those homes, rates will go up by no more than $120 in the first year, according to data released by FEMA — similar to the typical annual increases under the current system. An additional 627,000 homes will see their costs fall.
But 331,000 single-family homes around the country will face a significant rise in costs. More than 230,000 households will see increases up to $240 in the first year; an additional 74,000 households will see costs rise by as much as $360. For about 25,000 single-family homes, addtional costs could reach as high as $1,200.
Almost half of those 25,000 households are in Florida, many of them along the string of high-risk barrier islands that run from St. Petersburg south to Fort Myers.