JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi and Louisiana Attorneys General Lynn Fitch and Jeff Landry filed a joint lawsuit against three federal government agencies for what they feel are exorbitant flood insurance rates.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are from eight states, 43 parishes within Louisiana, two Louisiana towns, 10 levee, drainage, and conservation districts, the West and East branches of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, and the Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana.
The defendants include Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, DHS, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, FEMA, and the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.
According to the lawsuit filed, it is in response to a formula developed by FEMA -“Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action”- to calculate the flood insurance rates for those in flood-prone areas. A press release from Fitch’s office asserts that the flood insurance rate for a single-family home could rise to $2,137, an over 249% increase.
“Equity in Action is increasing premiums for almost all policyholders, sometimes by ten times or more over the next decade,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit further asserts a lack of transparency in calculating the Risk Rating 2.0. It claims FEMA has not published any information relating to this calculation.
“Even the agents assigned with providing insurance policies under the new program do not know what effect any single data point has on a policy rate,” the lawsuit alleged.
Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshall Mike Chaney also agrees with this premise.
“While Risk Rating 2.0 initially looked promising, it has proven to be less than fair to consumers and is shrouded in secrecy,” Chaney said. “The financial impact to many consumers has been, and continues to be, devastating.”
In his Thursday press release, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry expressed criticism of FEMA. According to reporting done by NPR, the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused to comment on the pending litigation, citing FEMA policy.
“Thanks to FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0, flood insurance policies have become their own natural disaster with some premiums increasing tenfold for policyholders,” Landry said. “We believe there are legal deficiencies in these poor decisions, and we intend to hold these bureaucrats accountable.”
In a press release distributed Friday, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch also used the lawsuit to critique a party outside of the lawsuit’s scope: the Biden White House.
“Homeowners who suffer natural disasters should expect us to come alongside them and offer a helping hand,” Fitch said. “Instead, the Administration’s latest action makes flood insurance prohibitively expensive, forcing many homeowners to leave their homes or face bankruptcy or foreclosure.”
The case will go through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.