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Flood insurance facts for Minnesotans

With the National Weather Service reporting an elevated threat for spring flooding, Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley is asking Minnesotans to know the facts about flood insurance, according to a press release. Kelley urged Minnesotans to take action now to protect themselves and their property.

“In the land of 10,000 lakes, every Minnesotan is at risk of flood damage,” Kelley said. “The clock is ticking. This is a critical time of year. Minnesotans should reach out to their insurance agent now because there is a 30-day period between securing a flood policy and when it is effective.

“Those who wait until water rises near their home or business may be too late,” he said. “Now is the time to act.”

In recent years, floods have caused many Minnesotans to suffer major property damage and serious financial losses due to a lack of flood insurance protection, the release stated.

Of the roughly two million households in Minnesota, only 11,000 buy flood coverage. In response, the Department of Commerce is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, insurance carriers and local officials across the state to alert consumers and insurance agents about the importance of flood insurance in advance of the spring flooding season.

Kelley reminded Minnesotans they do not need to live or work in a flood plain or on the banks of a river to be at risk. There are many myths about flood insurance. It is important for Minnesotans to know several things about flood insurance:

• Flood damage is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

• There is a 30-day waiting period after purchasing a flood insurance policy before it takes effect.

• Flooding can occur even outside of flood-prone areas.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages Minnesotans to review their specific risks and needs to determine whether flood insurance coverage makes sense for their property. Flood insurance is worth considering even for Minnesotans who do not live in mapped flood-prone areas.

Flood insurance is available through the federally-backed National Flood Insurance Program and can be purchased through many licensed property insurance agents. Separate policies may be purchased for a building or its contents. The program also offers flood insurance for renters and businesses.

According to FEMA, the average starting cost for an annual flood insurance policy is $500 per year. In contrast, one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage.

More information about flood insurance is available at www.floodsmart.gov and by searching “Flood Insurance Basics” at mn.gov/commerce. As with any insurance policy, carefully review the details before purchasing. It is important to know both what is covered and what is not.