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Prepare for probable costly, damaging spring flood season

March 01, 2011

Prepare for probable costly, damaging spring flood season

For Immediate Release: Monday, March 1

(ST. PAUL, MN)  As the spring flood season quickly approaches, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, is reminding Minnesotans how important it is to prepare in order to mitigate potential losses. Consumers and businesses are strongly urged to connect with their insurance agent to discuss their coverage and determine whether any steps can be taken now to protect them from costly damages their property might sustain in what may be another record year of flooding.

Now is the time to make a decision about flood insurance. Flood insurance policies do not become active until after a 30-day waiting period. Depending on how quickly this winter's record snowfall melts, consumers who wait to act could be caught without coverage.

Officials from the National Weather Service have repeatedly indicated that virtually every river in the state of Minnesota is at risk for flooding this spring. Most people assume damage caused by flooding is covered by their homeowners' insurance policy. That is not the case. Homeowners must purchase separate flood insurance to protect their homes. Consumers who don't live in a flood zone may also be at risk. Between 20 percent to 25 percent of flood claims come from outside of high-flood-risk areas.

Consumers and businesses should speak to their agent and familiarize themselves with the wealth of information and materials on the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) website at www.floodsmart.gov .

Here are a few important flood insurance facts for consumers to keep in mind:

  • A standard flood policy only covers structural, furnace, water heater and air conditioner damage; flood-debris clean-up and floor surface damage such as carpeting and tile. If you want to protect the contents of your home, that requires a separately contents policy.

  • Homeowners should also be aware that in order for sump pump failures or sewer back-ups to be covered, they should opt for a rider on their homeowners' policy.
    Basements and portable storage units also are not covered by flood insurance.

  • The Minnesota Department of Commerce also has developed a one-stop shop to help Minnesota homeowners and businesses address property damages caused by storms or flooding. Among the tools on that site is a home inventory checklist that consumers can use to take inventory of their belongings.

The checklist will walk consumers from room to room in their home and ensure that they compile a thorough list of their property. By completing the checklist, homeowners who do file a claim or somehow qualify for assistance will know what they had in their home that might need to be replaced.