Big Changes for Waterfront Flood Insurance Are Coming Soon

Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect in October

Waterfront homes
Waterfront living might be changing soon.
Melisa Figueroa/Unsplash

In an ideal world, living in a home on the water has plenty of perks — but increasingly, “an ideal world” means one where climate change isn’t a factor. In the current century, news reports of flooded waterfront homes have abounded, including harrowing reports from natural disasters in New Jersey, Florida and Mississippi. It’s prompted many to suggest alternate ways of living on coastlines — or foregoing coastal living altogether.

Soon, a shift in the way the federal government handles flood insurance might have an effect on that debate. At The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle reported on a shift in governmental policies regarding flood insurance. On October 1, flood insurance will begin to increase for many parts of the country, with one state being especially affected. Flavelle writes that, based on data the Times obtained, “[i]n some parts of [Florida], the cost of flood insurance will eventually increase tenfold.”

The National Flood Insurance Program subsidizes insurance on waterfront homes — and has drawn criticism for certain aspects of how it utilizes tax revenue. Or, as Flavelle writes, “using tax dollars to underwrite waterfront mansions has become increasingly hard to defend.”

FEMA administers this program, and announced a new system of calculating risk in 2019. As the Times notes, out of the 3.4 million homes covered under the program, 331,000 will encounter ” a significant rise in costs.” The policy of phasing in some increases over time has also led to some confusion and frustration among affected homeowners — and has led a bipartisan group of Senators representing coastal states to call for delays and alterations in what’s been dubbed Risk Rating 2.0. It’s one part of a much larger reckoning with climate change and built environments, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

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