A Louisiana parish is suing FEMA for withholding flood insurance rating methodology, alleging the agency has denied residents from viewing data used to set rates under the National Flood Insurance Program’s Risk Rating 2.0.
St. Charles Parish filed suit in the United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, claiming the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) entitles the parish to flood insurance pricing methodology data.
In November 2022 the parish submitted a FOIA request to FEMA seeking data used to calculate NFIP flood insurance premiums under Risk Rating 2.0, a risk rating methodology FEMA says delivers actuarially sound rates.
FEMA said in response that the Risk Rating Engine was designed using privately held data purchased by the US government through contracting, and forcing the government to reveal proprietary data of the third party would breach exemption of FOIA.
St. Charles submitted an appeal of FEMA’s response, claiming FEMA FEMA failed to state whether it does or does not possess any of the requested information; FEMA’s response was vague as to whether the agency reviewed any documents in response to the request; and FEMA relied on an outdated standard for what constitutes “confidential.”
FEMA has not issued a determination on the parish’s FOIA appeal.
Under Risk Rating 2.0, St. Charles Parish residents could see an increase in flood insurance on average from $815 to $2,766. Annual premium increases are capped at 18%.
St. Charles said that Risk Rating 2.0 threatens to price residents and property outs of the parish and the surrounding region.
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