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Patrick Springer, Published February 28 2009

Clock ticking to buy flood insurance

Residents of the Red River Valley are accustomed to gauging river forecasts to decide whether they should buy flood insurance for the spring thaw.

But those who are still waiting shouldn’t wait much longer, emergency preparedness officials warn.

“The people in the Red River Valley, they know the drill,” said Cecily Fong, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. “They keep an eye on the forecasts.”

Still, because federal flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins, homeowners must act quickly if they believe they need protection, Fong said.

“That’s really the call to action,” she added. “If you think it’s going to flood, and if you think flood insurance may be of benefit, you should act quickly.”

Flood insurance covers damage to a home or personal property directly caused by an eligible flood. That means, for example, that damage from a sewer backup is covered – if the backup is a direct result

of flooding.

Flood insurance for buildings covers the building and foundation, as well as electrical and plumbing systems. It also covers central air, heating, furnaces and water heaters.

Flood insurance for buildings also covers appliances such as refrigerators, stoves and built-in dishwashers, as well as permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor, installed paneling and wallboard.

Coverage for personal property includes personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment, curtains, window air conditioners, portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers.

Flood insurance does not cover damage from moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner, or living expenses such as temporary housing.

Gretchen Austin, a Fargo insurance agent, said her office has been getting lots of inquiries about flood insurance.

“I think the real alarm is the new flood map that is coming out,” she said of the new federal flood plain map, due out this summer. Mortgage holders inside the 100-year flood plain will be required to buy flood insurance once the new zone takes effect a year following its release.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522