ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- With spring breakup just around the corner, disaster response officials are encouraging Alaskans to review their current insurance policy and make sure flooding is a covered option.
"Investing in flood insurance is one of the wisest steps a homeowner, business owner or renter can make to protect against financial losses from flooding," said William Lokey, federal coordinating officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "When it comes to flood damages, someone who has coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program also has relatively inexpensive peace of mind."
The snow melt and ice breakup peril increases the threat of flooding in the spring, according to Larry Rundquist, development and operations hydrologist with the Alaska River Forecast Center.
"This is the time of year when significant snow melt will occur and water levels will be rising in streams, lakes and wetlands," Rundquist said.
The standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover damages from flood. It only covers damage from rain or wind-driven water. So if consumers want to insure their property, they must purchase protection through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
"Tsunami damage, flood-related erosion, flooding from an ice jam, glacier-dammed lake flooding, and mudflow events caused by flood waters are covered only through flood insurance," said NFIP state coordinator Christy Miller.
Individuals who carry national flood insurance are covered for structural damages to their homes. Those who have purchased contents coverage are insured for damage to their personal belongings as well. Coverage for damage to basements is limited to structural elements and basic items used to service the building such as furnaces, water heaters, utility connections, etc.
"There is no substitute for the benefits of flood insurance," Lokey said. "The clear message is that we want people protected from the finanancial devastation of flooding at all times. And it isn't fair to leave the impression that disaster aid is a substitute for flood insurance."
Individuals can purchase flood insurance protection through their homeowners insurance agent or by calling NFIP at 1-800-427-4661. There is a 30-day waiting period between the purchase date and date that the policy goes into effect.