Over 100,000 individuals were displaced due to the rainfall-induced flooding that occurred in south Louisiana over the weekend—even more worrisome is that the weather event could drastically affect insurance rates across the state.
“Thousand-year” rains drenched parts of south Louisiana, submerging parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes in 2 feet of water for 48 hours, reported NOLA.com
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said that changes to the state’s flood map and rate hikes are "way down the road." He also noted that many communities are still waiting for the floodwaters to recede before the damage can be assessed.
"[Louisiana is] becoming scarier and more expensive," Donelon said of insuring a home in the state. Aside from the historic rainfall, he also pointed out the state’s vanishing coastline and rising sea levels as other factors policyholders should be worried about.
There were properties that had the unfortunate distinction of being "severe repetitive loss" properties—properties that were flooded twice this year; once by the flood over the weekend, and the other during a previous weather event. Donelon said that such properties can expect surging premium rates unless their owners take mitigation steps.
Notably, many of the people who sought shelter from the floods did not live in the designated high-risk flood zones where flood insurance is required.
Flood insurance is typically not included in standard homeowner’s insurance and must be purchased separately.
According to statistics from Gov. John Bel Edwards' office, over 86,500 have registered for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the flooding.
If the flooding leads to flood map changes, more homeowners could find themselves in high-risk zones. More policyholders would then have to pay for flood insurance, and those currently paying would likely have to pay for even higher rates.
FEMA is in the process of analyzing the full effects of the flood before it can get to reworking Louisiana’s flood maps.
"Before there are any changes made to the flood maps, we will coordinate with the state and all the communities," FEMA spokesperson Romine-Ortega told NOLA.com
in an email.
Donelon warned that areas outside the levee system—Slidell, LaPlace, and Venetian Isles—could experience an increase in their rates as the government expects more risk elsewhere.
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