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Flood damage from heavy rains? Minnesota Commerce Department offers tips to recover

9/23/2016 1:31:37 PM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL – Recent mega-rain events have caused flood and water damage for many Minnesota homeowners and businesses. As Minnesotans clean up from the mess, the Minnesota Commerce Department is offering information about insurance coverage and tips on replacing water-damaged furnaces, water heaters and other energy-related mechanical equipment.

“Minnesotans should first find out whether water damage will be covered by their insurance policies,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose agency serves as both the state insurance regulator and state energy office. “Minnesotans should also assess whether they will need to replace heating or cooling equipment affected by flood waters.”

Insurance coverage?

The first thing to find out is whether you have insurance coverage that will help.

In general, damage caused by rising surface water or mudflow requires flood insurance that is separate from standard homeowners insurance. However, damage caused by falling rain water that enters the home through the roof or walls may be covered by your homeowners policy. Check with your insurance company or agent as soon as possible.

If you bought flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program, contact the agent or insurance company that sold you the policy. Information about flood insurance is available at www.floodsmart.gov.

If your vehicle suffered flood damage, most auto insurance policies with comprehensive coverage will pay for repairs or a total loss (minus whatever deductible you have). Make sure you contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to file a claim.

What needs replacement?

Most mechanical equipment and associated supply and vent lines damaged by flood water will likely need to be replaced. This including furnaces and boilers, water heaters, energy recovery ventilation and air conditioners.

If there is any question whether flood water has reached a gas or electric appliance, the unit should be checked by a professional. Opinions vary about replacement or repair of water-soaked heating systems, but most experts recommend replacement.

Furnace ducts may appear undamaged, but moisture may have collected in low spots, leading to potential problems with mold. Horizontal sections should be opened and thoroughly dried. Proper sealing at all joints should be part of reassembly.

Look for ENERGY STAR® label

Efficiency is a key factor to keep in mind when replacing energy-related equipment such as gas furnaces, boilers, air conditioners and gas water heaters. Investing in efficiency will result in lower lifetime operating costs and reduce carbon emissions.

When shopping, look for the ENERGY STAR® label, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. At the ENERGY STAR® website (www.energystar.gov), you can compare different models. 

Incentives to replace equipment

Many utility companies offer rebates when purchasing high-efficiency equipment and appliances. 

Tax credits and other incentives may exist for energy-saving products and renewable energy systems. For instance, the Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program for new solar electric and thermal systems. 

Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org for the latest listing of rebates and incentives in Minnesota.

Additional resources

The U.S. Department of Energy offers a list of resources for homeowners and businesses looking to rebuild after a disaster—“From Tragedy to Triumph: Resources for Rebuilding Green after Disaster” (pdf). 

The Minnesota Commerce Department also offers a Home Energy Guide, which provides information to help consumers make smart choices about energy efficiency, including the repair and replacement of home heating and cooling systems.

Commerce is here to help

For more information on energy topics, contact the Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center by email at energy.info@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710 (Greater Minnesota).

If you have a question or concern about your insurance, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

Media Contact:

Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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