Now the time to consider flood insurance

Official suggests not waiting until waters begin to rise
By: 
Kevin Passon
Editor-in-chief

One inch of water can lead to thousands of dollars in damage to a home or business, so local and state officials encourage owners and renters to consider flood insurances.

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, and on average, 40% of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims occur outside of high-risk flood areas. With increasing annual precipitation in Wisconsin, flood insurance is a tool to help prevent financial vulnerability.

Federal flood insurance is available to residents through the National Flood Insurance Program if the local community is a member of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance coverage includes buildings and possessions for residential and commercial customers.

It covers many direct losses from a flood, including foundations, basements and crawl spaces, appliances, debris removal, walls and flooring, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, furnaces and water heaters, and more.

Insurance can be purchased through the NFIP to cover agricultural structures but not crops or livestock.

According to the DNR, here are a few things to consider when contemplating whether to purchase flood insurance.

• Since October 2016, 20 of 72 counties in Wisconsin have received federal disaster declarations due to flooding.

• A 1% chance flood (or 100-year event) can happen four or more times during a 30-year mortgage.

• In Wisconsin, annual average precipitation rose by about 3.1 inches between 1950 and 2006 representing a 10% increase.

• Over the next 50 years, the observed trend toward an increase in the annual amount of precipitation is expected to continue, according to the Wisconsin Emergency Management 2016 Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Homeowners and renters are encouraged to talk to their local insurance agent or visit floodsmart.gov to learn more.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) floodplain program manages community enrollment in the National Flood Insurance Program, with staff serving as experts on federal flood insurance.

“Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program is one of the tools that builds flood resiliency into our Wisconsin communities,” said Sarah Rafajko, State of Wisconsin National Flood Insurance Program coordinator at the DNR. “Don’t wait until flood waters are rising to explore insurance.”

There is usually a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program policies go into effect, so signing up today ensures residents have coverage in place by the time spring showers start to hit Wisconsin.

Those who own property in Special Flood Hazard Areas are required to purchase flood insurance if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. Those not required to have the coverage should also consider their flood risks.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has a number of resources available to help consumers understand flood insurance at oci.wi.gov/flood and information on mitigating flood risk at oci.wi.gov/disasters.

“One inch of water can cause up to $25,000 in damage, so even small or moderate floods can be financially devastating if you don’t have the right insurance,” said Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Nathan Houdek. “Whether you rent or own, there is flood insurance coverage available for your needs.”

Learn more about flooding and flood insurance on the DNR’s floodplain webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/FloodPlains/insurance.html.

kpasson@newmedia-wi.com