2/25/2016 11:52:46 AM
SAINT PAUL – When it comes to flood insurance, it is never too early to think spring.
Although most current indicators suggest a low chance for extensive springtime flooding in Minnesota this year, heavy spring rainfall is always a wild card.
In recent years, floods have caused many Minnesotans to suffer not only major property damage, but also serious financial losses due to a lack of flood insurance protection.
Flood damage is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, and there is a 30-day waiting period after purchasing a flood insurance policy before it takes effect.
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is reminding Minnesota homeowners to review their specific risks and needs to determine whether flood insurance coverage makes sense.
“As always with insurance, it is essential to plan ahead to protect yourself,” said Rothman, whose agency regulates the insurance industry in Minnesota. “Even if you choose not to purchase flood insurance coverage, the best time to review your options is before the rain starts to fall.”
Flood insurance is available through the federally-backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can be purchased through many licensed property insurance agents. Policies can be purchased for both building and contents.
Since 1978, the NFIP has paid more than $139 million in claims to insured Minnesotans who suffered flood damage.
Flood insurance is worth considering even for homeowners who do not live in flood-prone areas. More than 20 percent of flood claims are for properties outside high-risk areas. The NFIP offers lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies specifically designed for residential properties located in moderate- to low-risk flood zones.
The program also offers flood insurance for renters and businesses.
As with any insurance policy, carefully review the details before purchasing. It is important to know both what is covered and what is not.
For example, NFIP has a specific definition of what qualifies as a flood:
“A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.”
For anyone who lives on or near a hillside or slope, be aware that there is a big difference between “mudflow” and “mudslide” for insurance purposes.
Flood insurance covers a mudflow, defined as a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land.
But neither flood nor homeowners insurance covers a mudslide, defined as the movement of destabilized earth down a slope. Coverage for mudslides must be bought as a stand-alone policy from a specialty insurer in the “surplus lines market.”
More information about flood insurance is available at www.floodsmart.gov. The website includes a “one-step flood risk profile” tool that provides risk and estimated cost information for any address.
If you have a question or concern about insurance, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).