DENVER – With one of the mildest winters ever nearly in the books, South Dakotans are looking to the renewal of spring. Unfortunately, that spring renewal often comes hand-in-hand with flooding. This year’s lack of snowfall is no reason to let your guard up, as heavy spring rains led to last year’s major floods on the Missouri and James Rivers.
More than 7,300 South Dakota buildings currently have flood insurance policies with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There’s nothing unusual about that. The state has been hit with a nationally declared flood disaster almost every year since 1993 – including nine in the last eight years. Purchasing and maintaining flood insurance is the best line of defense to protect your home and property against a flood loss.
Flood insurance is easy to get, the only requirement is that you live in a participating community (or participating county for rural residents). That’s right, you don’t need to live in a floodplain to purchase a policy. In fact, if you live outside a floodplain you may be eligible for a preferred risk policy that has a much lower premium than for a policy in a higher flood risk area. Almost 50 percent of the policies in place in South Dakota are preferred risk policies. And in most cases you can purchase an NFIP policy with the insurance agent you already deal with for your other insurance needs. When that isn’t possible, NFIP can put you in touch with another agent that can get you a flood insurance policy.
One key difference of an NFIP policy from another insurance policy is the 30 day waiting period prior to the policy going into affect. But that doesn’t mean anyone should view a policy like a lottery ticket, looking to purchase insurance only if flooding appears imminent. Flooding is a hazard that can occur at almost any time or place – 20 to 30 percent of flood claims occur in low to moderate risk areas – and flood insurance is an investment in your future. Making that initial policy purchase is a smart choice, but maintaining the policy for the long-term is what will protect your home and contents – most people’s largest investment.
The average cost of flood insurance in South Dakota is about $675 a year – less than $2 a day for financial protection from what could be devastating effects of a flood in a home or business. By purchasing a policy now, or keeping your existing policy, you have peace of mind. As with any insurance, be sure to talk with your agent about the specifics of your policy – how much coverage you need, coverage of contents as well as structure and any other questions you might have.
Find out more about your risk and flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov. To purchase flood insurance or find an agent, call 1-800-427-2419.