Flood insurance: Who needs it and how to get itby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesotans who live near rivers and streams at risk of flooding this spring are being urged to purchase flood insurance.
Regular homeowners insurance normally doesn't cover damages suffered during a flood, so homeowners who are at risk must purchase a separate policy. Renters also need to purchase separate flood insurance to cover their belongings.
The National Flood Insurance Program, which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has information on its website about flood insurance and how to get it.
Below is a list of questions and answers about flood insurance as homeowners in the region consider buying it.
If I bought flood insurance today, would I be covered if my home is damaged during expected flooding this spring?
It depends how soon the flooding happens. There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance takes effect, so a policy bought today wouldn't be valid until the beginning of April. In past years, flooding occurred in the Red River Valley in late March. But the National Weather Service has said that if cold conditions persist in the area, flooding could be pushed back to mid-April. MPR Meteorologist Paul Huttner predicted Thursday that flooding will begin around March 20 and peak the first week in April. Weather during the next two to three weeks will determine both the timing and severity of the flooding.
Who qualifies for flood insurance?
Anyone who lives in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program can purchase flood insurance. That includes more than 93 percent of all Minnesotans.
Who should buy flood insurance?
But David Schein, FEMA's team lead for insurance and outreach, cautioned that flooding doesn't just happen in the Red River Valley. About 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid outside of the high flood risk area.
"Water doesn't have to stop when it gets to a line on a page," Schein said. "Don't bet your biggest possession and your biggest investment that the water's going to stop when it gets there."
How much does it cost?
The average annual flood insurance premium in Minnesota is $663 a year, Schein said. The average coverage amount is $190,000. Schein said that last year, the average paid claim was $12,426.
Do most people have flood insurance?
No. There are about 110,000 businesses or homes in the high risk flood plain. There are just 12,185 active flood insurance policies in the entire state.
Or, as Schein puts it, "There's 12,000 policies in the land of 10,000 lakes."