The Mississippi insurance commissioner has decided to go it alone in filing a lawsuit aimed at delaying the onset of flood insurance premium rate hikes after the state attorney general declined to represent him.
The premiums are scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1.
Jackson County, Miss., supervisors said Monday that the rate hikes imposed through the 2012 law will range from hundreds of dollars a year to thousands of dollars a year on homes in flood-prone areas and could cause people in middle- to low-income brackets to walk away from their homes.
“We are moving ahead with our suit plans,” Commissioner Mike Chaney said Tuesday night after disclosing that Attorney General Jim Hood had declined Tuesday to file the suit on Chaney’s behalf.
In the letter, Chaney disclosed that the suit will be filed against the U.S. government and its Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program.
Chaney said in the letter that insurance premiums imposed under the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 “significantly changes the NFIP.”
The letter also asks Hood to approve Chaney’s decision to hire a private law firm to represent the insurance commissioner, an elected office in Mississippi, in the lawsuit.
He plans to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the rate hikes before bills start going sent out Oct. 1.
Residents of states from Texas to Vermont are protesting the increases. A group representing New Orleans businesses says some NFIP customers could see rate hikes of up to 3,000%.
That’s because some rates have been grandfathered since flood maps setting rates based on risks were initiated under the NFIP starting in 1969.
Louisiana officials said that, currently, 49% of flood insurance rates levied in the state are subsidized.