Lafayette flood insurance rates will rise 81%, FEMA estimates

The gist: New data from FEMA’s controversial Risk Rating 2.0 system for pricing flood insurance shows premiums in Lafayette Parish are expected to increase 81% on average for single-family homes under the program.

Increases of more than 50% are expected for National Flood Insurance Program policies in nine of the 10 ZIP Codes that cover the Lafayette area. The lowest average price hike expected around Lafayette is 14% — about $90 — in 70583, which runs from Scott northwest toward Cankton. A table of Lafayette ZIP Codes follows below.

Lafayette Parish ZIP Codes

ZIP CodeAvg. IncreaseCurrent Avg. PremiumExpected Avg. Premium
National Flood Insurance Program premiums are expected to increase significantly in Lafayette under the new Risk Rating 2.0 system.

Around 15,000 single-family homes with flood insurance policies in Lafayette Parish will be impacted.

Premiums will double in other parts of the parish, particularly in areas along major drainage channels and where widespread development is prevalent. For example, 70503, which covers Lafayette between Johnston Street and the Vermilion River, is expected to see average rates jump 157% — more than $1,150 a year — under Risk Rating 2.0.

Earlier estimates were limited to just the first year of the Risk Rating 2.0 system’s implementation. Before the plan took effect in 2021, the agency released data showing 98% of policies for single-family homes in Lafayette ZIP Codes would either see their premiums drop or increase by less than $120 by the end of 2022. The newly released data on the program estimates the total expected increase, which will take many properties several years to reach.

Details have been sparse about how FEMA calculates premium prices under the new system despite repeated questioning and criticism from Louisiana’s Congressional delegation. FEMA says Risk Rating 2.0 considers an individual property’s risk of flooding, instead of primarily relying on flood maps, to determine the cost to insure it against flood damage. The change is aimed at rectifying disparities in flood insurance costs, FEMA says, that were previously criticism from inland states that previous rates amounted to national subsidies for coastal areas more prone to flooding.

Increases are capped at 18% per year for current policies, according to FEMA, meaning the planned adjustments to flood insurance premiums will take years to implement for existing homeowners. Newly written policies will immediately pay the full Risk Rating 2.0 price for insurance, but homeowners can transfer their existing properties to buyers at current rates to make selling their homes easier.

The pinch adds to rising costs as Louisiana deals with its worst homeowners insurance crisis since Hurricane Katrina. Costs for homeowners insurance have shot up following the slew of hurricanes that battered Louisiana in 2020 and 2021 and caused many insurance companies to fold or leave the state. Efforts to lessen the homeowners insurance crisis are underway in this year’s legislative session, but the federal nature of the flood insurance program leaves local lawmakers largely on the sidelines.