GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Most homeowners in the flood-ravaged areas of northern Minnesota will be left high and dry when it comes to financial protection. Statistically, fewer than 1% of Minnesotans have flood insurance.
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) figures, only 329 homeowners in Saint Louis County, which includes Duluth, purchased flood insurance in 2012. In hard-hit Carlton County, the number of policy holders is just 17.
It is too late for those without the coverage to get it for this weather event. It takes 30 days after purchase for flood insurance to be in effect. This will cause hardship for many since homeowners' insurance generally does not cover floods.
Individual cities and towns must participate in the federal program in order for their residents to obtain flood insurance. About 85% of Minnesota cities do participate.
All flood insurance comes from FEMA, although it is often purchased through a local agent. The average cost of an annual policy in Minnesota is $663 although homeowners who live in flood-prone areas can pay much more, even thousands of dollars.
It is important for homeowners to understand that flooding of this nature is not simply water in a basement. The Minnesota DNR website defines a "flood" as "a general or temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property)."
Although it is considered wise to consult one's own insurance agent, there is a website that offers a no-cost idea of how vulnerable a house is to flooding. It is www.freeflood.com. The site requires an email address to register. The user can type in a home address and quickly receive an explanation of the property's flood potential.
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