As temps rise, homeowners may consider flood insurance

A number of powerful snowstorms this winter brought plenty of snow to Utah’s mountain ranges. The state’s snowpack totals are averaging more than 130 percent of normal, and as spring temperatures increase, the potential for flooding increases with it – and so does the need for flood insurance, according to a statement from Steve Gooch, the public information officer for the Utah Insurance Department.

The threat is serious enough that Gov. Gary R. Herbert declared March to be Flood Safety Awareness Month. For many Utah homeowners, even a small flood could mean disaster, said Gooch.

“Many homeowners don’t realize that flood coverage is not included in their home insurance policy,” said Utah Insurance Commissioner Todd E. Kiser. “Flood insurance is a separate policy that must be added onto an existing homeowner’s policy, and it becomes effective 30 days after the policy is added.”

Flood season in Utah generally runs from April through May as mountain snow starts to melt.

Homeowners should act now to protect their property from excessive spring runoff.

“Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when flooding will start in any given year,” said Kiser. “That makes it critical for homeowners to talk to their insurance agent about flood coverage well in advance of a spring thaw.” Not all insurance agents write flood insurance policies, but the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP, floodsmart.gov) has resources to help find an agent who does, said Gooch.

Now is a good time to create a home inventory, said Gooch. A home inventory can help you determine the types and level of coverage you need before disaster strikes, and it can make it easier to file a claim after a major loss. Creating an inventory can be as simple as taking photos of your belongings and writing them down in a spreadsheet. (The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a good one available at insureuonline.org).