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FEMA, homeowners insurance Tampa Bay, Miami and New Orleans Louisiana

By Mike Heuer

One such site is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which recently issued flood insurance guidelines for homes located in high-risk flood plains. Those guidelines have generated a great deal of controversy regarding their impact on homeowners insurance in Louisiana and Florida homeowners insurance companies in particular and other Gulf Coast states in general.

The new rates are based on the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was enacted with overwhelming support in Congress but since has caused consternation among for homeowners insurance Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Miami and other communities must pay to protect their homes.

The new federal regulations took effect on Sept. 1, 2013, and impact a great deal of homes along the Gulf Coast that are considered to be in high-risk areas for flooding damage and destruction, such as New Orleans. The act greatly increases rates on homeowners insurance Louisiana and Florida residents in particular need as well as those in Mobile, Alabama, and part of Texas. Also impacted are many Atlantic Coast communities along Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and other areas where hurricanes and flood damage are more common.

The federal regulations make rates very expensive for people living in homes situated four feet or more lower than the base flood elevation determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In such instances, rates are at least $9,500 per year for flood insurance protection on top of standard homeowners insurance rates. Homes situated at the base elevation level as determined by federal officials will cost at least $1,400 per year for flood insurance protection in addition to homeowners insurance costs. And those homes located at least three feet above the based elevation will be charged $427 per year.

Most homes with flood insurance in the United States obtain their coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program, which was created more than 20 years ago by federal officials to offer affordable rates for flood-threatened homes but since has become cash-strapped and heavily indebted after four hurricanes slammed into Florida in 2004 followed by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita hitting New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast in 2005.

As a result of the storms, many Florida homeowners insurance companies have withdrawn from that state. And rates for homeowners insurance Louisiana residents must pay have risen sharply to offset the claims costs of paying for repairs and replacement of homes ravaged by the 2005 storms.

Many Louisiana politicians are working to undue the high costs imposed on homes located below the flood plan in that state, which essentially doubles the cost of owning many homes. Some cite recent flood mitigation efforts and improvements to levies and other flood control systems as proof the rate increases are not needed.

But federal officials have not relented and are moving forward with the high costs for high-risk homes that could be wiped out by another massive flood such as the one caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Federal officials since have been busy expanding flood plain maps and identifying homes and other properties considered to be at risk for flood damages and destruction across the country, including many where flash flooding or rising rivers might post a risk.