For Immediate Release: March 19, 2008
National Flood Safety Awareness Week Good Time to Review Your Flood Insurance Policy
(St. Paul, MN --) Floods threaten homes from coast to coast, and as we've seen recently in southern Minnesota, they can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. The Minnesota Department of Commerce and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) are reminding Minnesota homeowners to review their insurance coverage during National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 17-21.
The damage from a flood is not covered under a standard homeowner's policy. Before snowmelt and spring rains bring the potential for flooding, the Department of Commerce and NAIC suggest all homeowners and renters review their flood insurance needs.
"We commonly hear about homeowners who are unaware that flood insurance is not included in their home insurance policy," said Commerce Commissioner Glenn Wilson. "We urge consumers to educate themselves and make sure their homes are covered in case of a disaster, and prevent possible losses in the future."
The Department of Commerce offers information for consumers who are considering flood insurance to safeguard their homes:
The standard homeowners' insurance policy does NOT cover flood damage.
Flood insurance is a special policy that is backed by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Check with your insurance company to see if they offer coverage.
Check with area floodplain maps to figure out if your property falls on a 100-year floodplain, a 500-year floodplain or neither.
Floodplains are not the only areas at risk for flooding.
Twenty to 25 percent of all Minnesota flood claims come from outside areas designated as high risk.
Flood insurance becomes effective 30 days after it is purchased.
It is never a good idea to wait to purchase insurance until you absolutely need it. The rule of thumb in situations such as flooding is it is better to be safe than sorry.
In the majority of floods, uninsured victims may have to use their own resources to rebuild or recover.
Until the President declares a flood a disaster, disaster assistance is unavailable. Less than 50 percent of all floods are declared disasters.
Disaster assistance is typically offered in the form of a loan which must be paid back.
The average flood insurance premium is $400 per year depending on where you live and the coverage you choose.
In low to moderate risk areas, coverage can be purchased for just over $100.
Homeowners can buy up to $250,000 worth of structural coverage. Businesses can buy up to $500,000 of coverage.
There is separate coverage for contents: up to $100,000 for residential and $500,000 for non-residential, so renters can purchase flood insurance too.
Standard flood insurance does NOT typically cover basement improvements or personal contents in basements. It does, however, cover the structural elements and essential equipment normally located in basements, such as a furnace, water heater, washer and dryer.
Talk to your insurance agent about specific coverage available for basements.
Flood insurance is available in all communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Most Minnesota communities participate. To find out if your community participates in the program, visit www.fema.gov/nfip/
All claims and expenses of the NFIP program are funded by insurance premiums, not tax dollars.
Purchasing flood insurance
Contact your local insurance agent or insurance company to find out what types of offers they have for purchasing flood insurance.
For more information about flood insurance, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Insurance Administration, Washington DC. 20472. You can also find information on the National Flood Insurance Programs website at www.fema.gov/nfip/
If you have flood insurance and want information about filing claims, or if you are having trouble applying for flood insurance, call the national information line at 1-800-427-4661.
Department of Commerce Contacts:
If you experience problems with an insurance company or are aware of any fraudulent activity, please contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team at 800-657-3602 or 651-539-1600 or visit us on the web at www.commerce.state.mn.us .