Flood Insurance

How Risk Rating 2.0 Will Affect Flood Insurance Policies

The cost of flood insurance will increase on more than 3.8 million policies, though just 4% of all policies will see the highest increases after FEMA’s new methodology is implemented. Here are state and county breakdowns.
Flood damage to a residential area.
Flood damage to a residential area. Source: Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking steps to more effectively assess the flood risk that homeowners face. The agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) recently released new flood insurance rating procedures meant to equitably distribute the cost of insurance for potential flood damage based on the risk a property faces.

FEMA estimates that Risk Rating 2.0 — the new methodology that goes into effect in October — will result in immediate cost reductions for 23% of existing policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While this means that nearly 1.2 million policies will see costs decrease, more than 3.8 million will see rates increase.

It's estimated that just 4% of existing policies across the U.S. will have the highest rate hike — greater than $20 a month, or $240 a year. However, because of the geographic factors that influence the cost of flood insurance, some states are more likely to see the highest increases. In fact, more than 10,000 policies each in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York will face the highest price increases.

Key findings

FEMA's rate changes promise to set right the problem of policyholders paying rates that don't reflect the true risk they face

Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect on Oct. 1 and incorporates a wide range of variables to arrive at a more realistic estimate of a community's flood risk.

According to FEMA, Risk Rating 2.0's enhanced flood assessment tools will correct the problem of policyholders with lower-valued properties paying rates that would more accurately reflect the risk a higher-valued home faces.

Before Risk Rating 2.0, the agency primarily evaluated flood risk by using flood zone maps, which communicate the likelihood of an area being inundated by a 100-year flood event. On paper, this translates to a 26% risk of flood damage during the lifetime of a conventional 30-year mortgage.

By moving away from a reliance on flood zone mapping to show a community's flood risk, FEMA can illustrate the unique risk a property faces. Risk Rating 2.0 models a property's risk through various considerations, including:

  • Probable inland flooding
  • Historical storm surges
  • Cost to rebuild the property
  • Historical losses
  • Elevation
  • Natural surroundings and barriers

Though many homes will see marginally higher rates for flood insurance after Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect, existing limits on annual rate increases will still be in effect. This means that most homes won't experience year-over-year price hikes that are more than 18%.

New rates will more accurately reflect risk, with nearly 1.2 million policies seeing immediate discounts — but most people will see rate increases

FEMA breaks down its projections for rate changes across four categories:

  • Immediate discounts
  • Increases that are $10 or less a month
  • Increases of $10.01 to $20 a month
  • Increases of more than $20 a month

Below are the number of in-effect policies that FEMA estimates will be affected across each tier:

Rate change (per month)
Policies affected
Immediate decrease1,161,539
$10 or less3,323,350
Between $10 and $20330,516
Greater than $20192,836

Nationally, 23% of existing policies will decrease in cost as a result of Risk Rating 2.0. Eighty-four percent of policies in Alaska are likely to carry cheaper rates after its implementation, but there are just 2,300 in-effect policies in the state.

Residents of Maryland and Michigan are far more likely to benefit from FEMA's policy change. Sixty-one percent of Maryland's 65,000 flood insurance policies and 54% of Michigan's 20,500 policies will decrease in cost immediately after FEMA's rating changes take place. Alaska, Maryland, Michigan, Utah and the District of Columbia are the only areas where more than half of the existing policies will decrease in cost.

Meanwhile, 77% of existing policies across the U.S. will see some level of price increase. The ratio of policies that will be more expensive after Risk Rating 2.0 varies by state. For example, 86% of policies in Texas will have higher prices after October, second only to Hawaii at 87%.

Just 4% of policies nationwide, or nearly 193,000, will see rate increases greater than $20 a month. In more than half (27) of the states, fewer than 1,000 existing policies will experience the highest price increase. In five states, however, there are more than 10,000 existing policies that FEMA estimates will carry rate increases of at least $20 a month, including in some of the nation's most populated states, such as Florida, Texas and New York.

Of more than 5 million in-effect policies, 77% will see some increase, while 4% will experience a per-month cost increase that's greater than $20.

Total policies in effect
Percentage with decrease
Percentage with any increase
Percentage with an increase greater than $20 a month
New Jersey217,20021%79%5%
South Carolina208,60026%74%3%
New York171,10032%68%7%
North Carolina139,80026%74%3%
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Table sorted by largest number of existing policies.

68% of the policies in the counties where flood insurance is most common are going to increase in price because of Risk Rating 2.0 — while 18% of these policies will decrease by more than $240 a year

ValuePenguin also analyzed the county-level impact of Risk Rating 2.0. Researchers examined the top 25% of counties — 760 in total — where flood insurance policies are most prevalent.

In these counties, 68% of existing policies will increase in price with the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0.

This means that 32% of the policies in these areas will either stay the same price or become cheaper. The NFIP’s projections allow ValuePenguin to break down these numbers further. Though rates will rise on more than two-thirds of these policies, just 4% of existing flood insurance plans will increase by more than $20 a month. At the same time, the cost of flood insurance will drop by more than $20 a month on 18% of policies within these counties.

Flood insurance policyholders in Pacific County, Wash., are most likely to be affected by rate increases. ValuePenguin discovered that 98% of policies in the county will be more expensive after the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0. At the same time, just 1% will rise by more than $20 a month here.

Prices are likely to rise the most in Hunterdon County, N.J., where nearly one-quarter (24%) of the flood insurance policies will be more than $20 a month more expensive due to Risk Rating 2.0.

At the other end of the spectrum, prices are likely to fall the most in Ector County, Texas. Here, 67% of the policies in effect will drop in price by more than $20 a month. Policies are most likely to decrease by any amount in Anchorage Municipality, Alaska (96%).

County and state
Number of policies
Increasing by more than $20 a month
Decreasing by more than $20 a month
1Miami-Dade County, Fla.346,60822%78%3%5%
2Harris County, Texas334,28711%89%3%6%
3Broward County, Fla.192,93322%78%2%4%
4Lee County, Fla.134,0309%91%9%3%
5Palm Beach County, Fla.133,75329%71%2%4%
6Pinellas County, Fla.126,28216%84%9%6%
7Jefferson Parish, La.104,65613%87%3%7%
8Collier County, Fla.103,6166%94%4%1%
9Orleans Parish, La.81,02718%82%2%12%
10Charleston County, S.C.69,28726%74%3%15%
11Galveston County, Texas66,70812%88%4%9%
12Fort Bend County, Texas64,5845%95%0%2%
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Counties in this table are ranked by the number of existing flood insurance policies in effect. Counties shown are the top 50 for number of flood insurance policies in effect.

How premium changes compare across states in counties with the most flood insurance policies

Researchers also analyzed how the cost of flood insurance will change in the counties in each state with the most policies. In Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, 80% of the policies will be more affordable due to Risk Rating 2.0. Conversely, policies in Nye County, Nev., are most likely to increase — 96% will go up in cost.

Of these counties, prices are likely to rise the most in York County, Maine, where 14% of flood insurance policies will increase by at least $20 a month.

County and state
Number of policies
Increasing by more than $20 a month
Decreasing by more than $20 a month
Baldwin County, Ala.26,98522%78%2%5%
Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska62580%20%0%51%
Maricopa County, Ariz.16,48325%75%1%15%
Pulaski County, Ark.2,51431%69%4%23%
Sacramento County, Calif.52,49129%71%0%9%
Boulder County, Colo.5,67552%48%3%23%
Fairfield County, Conn.14,93338%62%9%27%
Sussex County, Del.22,12639%61%2%16%
District of Columbia2,39672%28%1%15%
Miami-Dade County, Fla.346,60822%78%3%5%
Chatham County, Ga.27,92218%82%2%8%
Honolulu County, Hawaii39,8407%93%5%5%
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Counties organized alphabetically by state.

What consumers need to know about flood insurance

Aside from how Risk Rating 2.0 affects the cost of coverage in their areas, consumers should be aware of the limitations of a federally backed policy.

Flood insurance from the NFIP normally carries a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect. Between the time a consumer purchases a policy and the date when that policy becomes effective, the policyholder effectively has no coverage from flood damage, as home insurance doesn't offer flood protection. Consumers should purchase coverage from the NFIP ahead of the typical storm season to maximize their protection.

Unlike a policy from the NFIP, private flood coverage carries a shorter waiting period of 10 to 14 days before it goes into effect. While private flood insurance policies are generally (though not always) cheaper and allow for more customization than a federally backed policy, the national availability and catastrophe-tested history of the NFIP could make it more attractive to many consumers — and to mortgage lenders that require flood insurance.

Those with expensive homes who need more flood insurance coverage may be more inclined to consider a private policy. The NFIP allows consumers shopping for residential flood insurance to purchase dwelling coverage worth up to $250,000 and $100,000 of coverage for contents. However, private flood insurance, when available, usually allows policyholders to purchase much higher limits of protection. Consumers may also add $30,000 of compliance coverage to an NFIP policy, which goes to construction that increases a home's resistance to floods.


ValuePenguin consolidated the information published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on the number of policies in effect and those scheduled to see a decrease or increase after the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0. In its Risk Rating profiles, the NFIP sorted policies into four categories based on estimated rate changes:

  • Immediate decreases to the cost of flood insurance
  • Increases that are greater than $0 but no more than $10 a month
  • Increases between $10.01and $20 a month
  • Increases that are greater than $20 a month

The first part of this study includes rate changes for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers at ValuePenguin also analyzed data at the county level for the latter part. This portion of the study calculates the percentage of policies increasing and decreasing, as well as those where the increase or decrease is greater than $20 a month. This study displays the top quarter of counties with the most flood insurance policies, though analysts have data on all U.S. counties with more than five flood insurance policies.