HELENA, Mont. – Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale is advising Montanans to prepare for flooding by purchasing flood insurance well in advance of warmer temperatures.
Flood insurance policies typically do not take effect until 30 days after purchase, so people should plan ahead for properties at risk of flooding.
“People living near rivers or streams should be especially mindful, as ice jams can cause flooding earlier in the season than many expect,” Rosendale said. “One ice jam on the Yellowstone a few years ago flooded about 800 acres of our ranch pasture and nearly came up to our house.”
Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States and there are many misconceptions about flood insurance. There is no guarantee that floods will be declared a disaster to open up federal assistance. Most homeowner’s policies do not cover flood insurance, and about 20 to 25 percent of all flood claims come outside of a high-risk flood area.
“Everyone should consider themselves susceptible to flooding and take steps to be prepared for that risk,” Rosendale said. “Every property owner should consider their options to purchase standalone flood coverage to protect their assets.”
Just a few inches of water can cost thousands of dollars in damage to walls, floors, furniture, carpets and other personal property. The average flood claim in Montana is nearly $13,000. Statistics indicate there is a one-in-four chance that a homeowner will experience a flood over a span of 30 years. 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from moderate to low risk flood areas.
Most flood policies are secured from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP program is overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which serves as the federal backstop for flood disasters. There is typically a 30 day waiting period when purchasing a new policy before it becomes effective, which can be a factor as flood season approaches.
Montana also has more private flood insurance options than ever. In 2015, the Montana legislature passed House Bill 94, which opened the marketplace to consumers by allowing a multi-peril insurance product that protects against flood, landslide, and earthquake. These programs are often more affordable and can provide better insurance protection to consumers. Many of these policies have only a 10 day waiting period before becoming effective.
“The time to purchase flood insurance for 2018 is now,” Rosendale said. “Waiting until you see the water rushing is too late to be thinking about flood insurance.”
More information on the available options for flood insurance is available on the CSI website here.
For a more comprehensive overview of flood insurance, visit www.FloodSmart.gov.