Consumer Advisory: Wildfires create landscapes prone to floods
Now is the time to consider buying flood insurance.
DENVER (July 6, 2018) – Wildfires continue to devastate many areas around the state. Yet when the fires subside, a new danger becomes much more prevalent: FLOODING.
Most homeowners do not realize that their basic homeowners insurance does not include protection from flood damage, and that flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy. Because of this, the Colorado Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, cautions anyone living in or around areas that have been hit by wildfires to consider buying flood insurance sooner rather than later.
“I know this is a tough message to hear right now. But, unfortunately, it’s imperative for people to seriously think about buying flood insurance,” said Interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. “In Colorado we know that today’s 95 degrees can quickly turn into a severe thunderstorm. Heavy rains will come to these areas, and because flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period before it provides coverage, I encourage people not to wait.”
Why is there an increased risk of flooding? Take a look at this information from the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) website “Wildfires: You Need Flood Insurance.”
“Large-scale wildfires dramatically alter the terrain and ground conditions. Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. However, wildfires leave the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored—up to 5 years after a wildfire. Flooding after a fire is often more severe, as debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. As rainwater moves across charred and denuded ground, it can also pick up soil and sediment and carry it in a stream of floodwaters. This can cause more significant damage.”
Buying flood insurance
If a flood occurs within the first 30 days of purchasing and paying the first premium of a flood policy, there will be NO coverage, so it is important to start considering flood insurance now. There are exceptions to the 30-day waiting period, but these are specific, limited situations. Get the details by asking your agent and visiting the FEMA website “Wildfires: You Need Flood Insurance” (click on the question, “Will it take 30 days for my policy to become effective?”)
FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally subsidized program available to any property owner —homeowners, renters, condominium owners and associations — whether or not the property is in floodplain. National Flood Insurance premiums vary depending on location and the type of coverage chosen. Coverage choices include insuring only the structure of a home or also including its contents.
Contact your insurance agent about buying flood insurance. If you do not have an agent or your agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP at 800-427-4661 or go to floodsmart.gov to get the name of an agent in your area. National Flood Insurance is sold through a private insurance agent selling it to a community that has joined NFIP. Through the NFIP, the federal government makes flood insurance available in communities that have reduced future flood risks. Over 19,000 communities in the U.S. and its territories participate in the NFIP.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675.