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Minnesota Recognizes Flood Awareness Week, Commerce Reminds Consumers to Plan Ahead to Weather the Storm

March 20, 2014

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – The first day of spring signals the beginning of severe weather season – floods, thunderstorms, and tornadoes.  Consumers who have experienced the devastation of a natural disaster, forcing families and businesses to clean up and file insurance claims, understand the importance of planning ahead. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is reminding Minnesota homeowners to use this time to determine if they may need to purchase flood insurance coverage. Flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowner's policy and flood insurance policies need to be purchased 30 days prior to its use. 

While assessing insurance coverage needs, this is also a good time to take stock of the contents of your home. Troubling evidence suggests that more than half of all consumers do not have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Commerce urges renters to purchase renters insurance to protect their belongings.

"Disasters are unforeseen by definition, but Minnesotans can take steps to help protect themselves and aid in the event of a claim and recovery,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Documenting your possessions by creating a home inventory ahead of a storm can help ensure your insurance coverage fits your needs and helps in the claims process in the event of a storm or flood.” 

Preparation is critically important to recover quickly after a disaster.  In an effort to help Minnesotans proactively review their insurance needs and streamline their response after a disaster, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging consumers to visit its Disaster Information Center located on the Commerce website.  This one-stop-shop was created to provide important information and resources that all Minnesotans should know and understand ahead of the upcoming storm season. The Disaster Information Center includes consumer information in the following areas:

  • Are You Covered? – If a disaster strikes, do you have the proper insurance coverage? Learn what is covered and what is not in case of a storm or flood. 
  • The Claims Process – If you have suffered a loss to your home or property, this section contains questions you should ask and things you should know before filing a claim.
  • Home Inventory  – Make sure your possessions are fully protected by documenting them with a home inventory. Do you have an Android® or iPhone®? If so, there’s an app for that. Download a free home inventory app for your personal mobile device.
  • Know Your Rights – Learn what your insurance company must and cannot do when you file an insurance claim after a disaster.
  • Auto Damage – From severe weather to icy road conditions, Minnesotans are no stranger to auto damage. Get all your questions answered about proper auto coverage and how to file an auto insurance claim.
  • Renters Insurance – If a tornado or flood destroys your apartment complex your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your family’s possessions. Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss.
  • Contact Your Insurer – Who to call at your insurance company after a natural disaster.
  • Flood Insurance – As the second largest natural disaster, floods are widespread and can cause much more than property damage. Without proper insurance, flooding can cause severe personal and financial losses. Learn more about flood coverage.
  • Public Adjusters – What Minnesota consumers should know before doing business with a public adjuster. 
  • Rebuilding After a Disaster – Consumer tips about insurance, mortgages, and construction after a disaster hits your property.
  • Working With Contractors – The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) reminds homeowners to do some homework before hiring a building contractor after a storm.
  • Disaster Finances: 101 – Keeping your finances in order after a natural disaster damages your property and possessions.
  • We Can Help – Contact our Consumer Response Team (CRT) to help answer your insurance questions, expedite your claims, and file complaints.

Of all the resources and information available on the Commerce Department’s Disaster Center, Commissioner Rothman particularly encourages all Minnesotans to learn more about Home Inventories. Among the tools on the Commerce website is a home inventory checklist consumers can use to take inventory of their belongings. In addition to walking consumers from room to room in their home, the checklist also encourages consumers to make a note of the brand, model number, serial number and what was paid for each item. 

Creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to myHOME, a new iPhone and Android application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The free myHOME app lets you quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room, and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.

Rebuilding after a storm

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team (CRT) is available to help consumers with questions, concerns, or complaints following a damaging storm, flood, or tornado. CRT experts can help you understand your rights, work with your insurer to settle a claim, and help you make informed insurance decisions after a flood or storm damages your home, auto, or property. 

Phone: (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) 
Address: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection and Education Division, 85 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101