Insurance policies

FEMA removes data showing decline in flood insurance policies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency removed publicly available documents from its website that showed hundreds of thousands of people had dropped their federal flood insurance policies in recent months.

FEMA pulled the records after E&E News cited the data in an Aug. 17 news article that found more than 425,000 people had terminated their policies with the United States National Flood Insurance Program. agency since October (climate wireAugust 17).

The agency said it deleted the records to correct inaccuracies and did not know when the data would be restored. A note on FEMA website says the reports “should be available within the next few weeks”.

FEMA did not dispute E&E News’ analysis in August of declining NFIP client numbers and acknowledged that there had been a “decline in policyholders.”

E&E News reported that the number of NFIP policies fell from 4.96 million on September 30, 2021 to 4.54 million as of June 30, a drop of almost 9%. The NFIP provides most of the nation’s flood insurance, which is sold separately from standard homeowner policies.

The wave of waivers began when FEMA began raising some rates as part of a sweeping restructuring that will make every premium more accurately reflect a property’s flood risk. The restructuring is taking place gradually through March 31, which means the number of people dropping their NFIP policies could increase over the next six months.

FEMA itself projected in an internal report in December that the number of NFIP policies would fall to 4.04 million by 2030, though the agency said the projection represented a “pessimistic financial model” (climate wireJuly 25).

Some policyholders are seeing their rates drop as part of the restructuring, known as Risk Rating 2.0. But the premium hikes have raised concerns that flood insurance has become too expensive for some customers and that homeowners who drop their cover are financially exposed to flood damage.

FEMA has suppressed five sets of data it has made public for years, showing the number of NFIP policies in each state over the previous 12 months and the number of policies in various categories of floodplains. FEMA updates the datasets monthly, and the information is used by researchers, lawmakers, and journalists.

The data sets had become particularly important since FEMA launched the Risk Rating 2.0, which the agency hoped would encourage homeowners to purchase flood coverage by more accurately showing them their flood risk.

Some insurance agents told E&E News the restructuring backfired because it resulted in higher premiums for homeowners who were not required to carry flood insurance and could drop their coverage without penalty.

FEMA deleted the datasets in early September because “they did not account for all [NFIP] applicable policies,” according to a statement to E&E News from Jeff Jackson, deputy deputy agency administrator for FEMA’s insurance directorate.

Jackson said FEMA became aware of “reporting issues” in early August with the number of NFIP policies posted on datasets, raising questions about the accuracy of the data the agency published on its website. .

“When we determined that there may be issues with our policy reporting, we made the decision to remove this information offline,” Jackson said.

Links to datasets have been disabled and replaced with a note that the data “should be available within the next few weeks”.

But in his email, Jackson said he “cannot advise when the public should expect to see this data restored.”

In July, FEMA issued a report about state laws that require property sellers to disclose a property’s flood history or flood risk to a potential buyer. The report includes a graph showing the number of flood insurance policies in each state as of mid-May, which reflects a decline from previous months.