HomeRenters InsuranceWhy you may not be insured for snowmelt flooding

Why you may not be insured for snowmelt flooding

SALT LAKE CITY — Because of this year’s large snowpack, the Utah Division of Emergency Management is preparing for potential flood damage from snowmelt this spring.

POLL: Are you taking steps to prepare for the snow to melt?

The department is encouraging cities to review plans and review supplies such as sandbags, while also asking residents to help clear stream beds and other ditches of debris. 

“We’ve seen a significant amount of snowpack in the mountains with a lot of water content depending on what happens this spring there’s a potential risk for flooding,” said the department’s Wade Mathews

Without speculating on damage, emergency management officials know flooding can cause major damage to businesses and homes.

“One inch of flood water in a home can cause as much as $25,000 or more in damages,” Mathews added.

To avoid a hefty bill, now is the time to consider buying flood insurance.

“It typically takes 30 days once you purchase that policy for it to go into effect,” said Mathews.

Tracy Klausmeier with the Utah Insurance Department recommends contacting an insurance agent to talk about individual flooding risks. Insurance can be purchased through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, or through an agent if they are an authorized dealer.

When determining rates, the National Flood Insurance Program looks at a variety of factors including flood risk, the type of coverage, the deductible and amount of building coverage, location, design, content, and age of the structure.

Klausmeier says it’s critical to read the policy to understand what it can and can’t be used for. For example, she said some policies won’t include coverage for an entire finished basement.

“Understanding what it will fix and what it won’t fix is so important because people generally think I have a policy I have coverage and it doesn’t exactly work that way,” she said.

Contrary to some beliefs, Klausmeier says neither homeowners or renters insurance covers flooding.

“It has never been covered by home insurance, that’s why the National Flood Insurance Program was created.”

Renters must purchase a separate flood policy outside of their home or renters insurance to insure personal contents. Regardless of a resident’s decision to purchase flood insurance, Mathews says homeowners should be prepared for a worst-case scenario.

“Store valuables, store important documents in waterproof containers, be ready to move those things, valuable furniture, expensive furniture to a higher floor if flooding is imminent and be prepared to evacuate,” he advised.

For more information on flood insurance, head to floodsmart.gov or floodhazards.utah.gov.

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