WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and fellow senators in calling on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to delay a government plan that would hike Louisianians’ flood insurance premiums.
“We write to urgently request that you delay the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance [Program] (NFIP) rating system known as Risk Rating 2.0, which is scheduled to go into effect for new policies on October 1, 2021. . . . we have serious concerns [about how] the program has thus far been constructed, presented and begun to be implemented and more significantly troubled by reports that nearly 80% of policyholders will see premium increases nationwide,” the senators wrote.
“It is our understanding that internal analysis shows that FEMA estimates roughly 900,000 policyholders, or nearly 20% of all policyholders, will drop out of the program over the next 10 years in large part due to unaffordable premiums under Risk Rating 2.0. In light of this information, we are extremely concerned about the administration’s decision to proceed forward with the implementation of this program without first determining an alternative that avoids the prospect that hundreds of thousands of families will be inclined to forfeit flood insurance on their homes,” the senators explained.
“We are entering the height of hurricane season, and tens of thousands of Americans have already faced destruction of their homes and livelihoods by Hurricane Ida alone. Tragically, this historic storm led to at least 84 deaths and caused tens of billions in unmet needs and property damage,” the senators continued.
The senators expressed several other concerns about Risk Rating 2.0, including the likelihood that NFIP providers would be overburdened with the responsibility of learning a new, untested rating system and the possibility that the NFIP’s reputation could suffer, hurting the integrity and long-term solvency of the program.
“Given these uncertainties, we request that you delay implementation of Risk Rating 2.0 immediately in order to provide time for full Congressional oversight, coordination and correct and transparent implementation,” the senators concluded.
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) also signed the letter.
Kennedy has consistently opposed Risk Rating 2.0:
- On August 5, 2021, Kennedy wrote to FEMA asking questions about the transparency, affordability and efficiency of Risk Rating 2.0.
- On June 17, 2021, Kennedy questioned David Maurstad, Senior Executive of the NFIP at FEMA, about Risk Rating 2.0.
- On June 7, 2021, Kennedy introduced the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to stop the Biden administration from unilaterally making changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that would raise premiums for Louisianians affected by flooding.
- On April 16, 2021, Kennedy wrote to Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) of the Senate Banking Committee, requesting a hearing to examine Risk Rating 2.0.
Kennedy has also introduced legislation to extend the National Flood Insurance Program for one year, to Sept. 30, 2022. Without that extension, the NFIP will expire at the end of this month. Kennedy’s efforts to extend the NFIP in 2018 and 2019 both became law.
The letter is available here.