Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy left about $220 billion in total property damages in their wake. Katrina caused approximately $16 billion in flood damages and required the flood insurance program overseer, FEMA, to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to cover insured losses. Losses from Sandy could push FEMA borrowing from the U.S. Treasury to $28 billion when all claims are paid.
Congress acted in July, 2012 to restore the program to solvency with the passage of the Biggert-Waters Act. Now, as the new flood insurance premiums take effect, an outcry against FEMA and Congress has grown in force.
The new rates are tightly targeted. According to data from FEMA, approximately 250,000 households out of over 5 million households in the program will see substantial premium increases. Insurance Journal drills down more deeply:
The Biggert-Waters act was an attempt to shore up the flood insurance program by moving it towards risk-based pricing. The law eliminates premium subsidies for repetitive loss properties, property owners who do not take steps to mitigate, secondary homes and certain properties that have been protected from risk-based rates by grandfathering.
The NFIP collects more than $3.5 billion in annual premium revenue, and FEMA estimates that an additional $1.5 billion annually is needed from subsidized policyholders for it to get financially even.