DENVER, Colo. -- Tuesday, November 30, is the deadline for people in the Devils Lake area to get a flood insurance policy that may pay off even before their property is flooded.
"People who buy this policy now will have the chance to get tens of thousands of dollars so they can move their home before they get flooded," said Rick Weiland, regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Denver office. "But if you do not buy the policy now, that possibility vanishes. You will have to have water in your home for 90 days before you can collect any flood insurance money."
Flood insurance makes sense in any case for people whose homes and businesses may be flooded, he pointed out. Floods are likely in low-lying areas from storms, spring thaw, and various other causes. People who buy flood insurance protect their buildings for several hundred dollars, and if they do so before November 30 they will have the added possibility of getting a payout before actual flooding occurs.
Weiland advised all those who own a home or business within the eligible area to consider buying the insurance, particularly if there is any chance their building is at an elevation of 1460 feet or below. The eligible area, called the "Area of Special Consideration" (ASC), includes parts of Ramsey, Towner, Benson, and Nelson counties.
In fact, most owners have already purchased a policy. A total of 1,072 structures have been identified within the ASC, and as of mid-September 973 policies were in effect within the area.
The first payments to four homeowners in the Devils Lake area under the new policy were approved Monday, November 22. Also, the Flood Insurance Administration recently made a policy decision to clarify that some buildings with basement flooding may be eligible for the endorsement coverage. Property owners with basement flooding should contact their insurance agent.
Those interested in buying the policy can do so through their local agent for homeowner's insurance, or can find an agent that sells flood insurance by calling 1-800/427-4661.
The purpose of the endorsement is to help people move buildings that are going to be flooded before the rising waters make it impossible to do so. If insurance appraisers rule a building is in "imminent danger" of being flooded, the endorsement allows 60 percent of the value of the policy to be paid in advance. The owner must use the money to buy the building at salvage value and move it above 1460 feet. The owner can use the land for agricultural or recreational purposes, and provides a conservation easement to the local government, tribe, or a non-profit trust. Once the owner has moved the building outside the floodplain, the remaining 40 percent of the policy will be paid.
However, building owners in the Devils Lake area are only eligible for the endorsement if they buy the policy on or before Tuesday, November 30. If they do purchase the policy, and keep it in effect, they can sell the building and new owners will also be eligible to maintain the policy. Owners who do not purchase a policy by November 30 will not be eligible for the endorsement, nor will future owners of the same building. The time limit is to prevent owners from waiting until they are about to be flooded to buy a policy, which would be an unfair burden to other policyholders.
"For several hundred dollars, you can protect a home worth tens of thousands," said Weiland. "The other option is to watch the waters keep rising and come into your home, perhaps every spring for several years, while you struggle to stay there or face all the costs of moving on your own. This policy is an option every homeowner and business owner in the area should consider. Protect yourself."
The new endorsement to flood insurance policies was created because of the unique circumstances of the rising waters in the Devils Lake area. The endorsement is part...