Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Jennifer Yocum-Stans
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

FEMA stresses the importance of private flood insurance


March 28, 2019

With the warmer temperatures melting the large amount of snow the area has received, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others are warning people of the importance of private flood insurance.

A spring flood outlook report created by Steve Gohde of the National Weather Service for Northeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin states the current conditions began with a cool wet fall which saturated the soil, absorbing extra water before freezing. Record amounts of snowfall in February and rain in previous weeks have also contributed to the current conditions. The current frozen ground has left the melting snow nowhere to go but low spots, which include many area basements.

With warmer temperatures, the snow will begin melting at a faster rate, which will cause area rivers to rise. Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson said the last information they had did not show a major concern for the Snake River in Pine City, but warned this could change at any time.

Nelson also suggested to be prepared for flooding events by investing in flood insurance. “The best way for people to recover their property after a flood event is insurance. Like all insurance, other than required insurances, for example vehicle or insurance required by a lien holder, it comes down to how much risk a person wants to assume and how much they want to insure,” he said.

“The 30-day waiting period for insurance to take effect may seem too late for the ‘spring thaw,’ but several of our recent flood events were later in the spring or in early summer, and of course there is always next year,” Nelson said.

According to FEMA, floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster. They cause millions of dollars in damage every year, and most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not typically cover flood damage. Without flood insurance, most residents have to pay out of pocket or take out loans to repair or replace damaged items. Disaster assistance programs offer relief in the forms of loans, that must be paid back with interest, or FEMA grants which provide about $5,000 on average per household. These grants must be applied for and approved by FEMA and are only available if the event is declared a disaster by the President. By comparison, reports FEMA, the average flood claim in 2017 was more than $90,000.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance policies can reimburse homeowners for all covered building losses up to $250,000 for homes and up to $500,000 for businesses. Contents of a building can also be covered up to $100,000 for homeowners and up to $500,000 for businesses.

The cost of a flood insurance policy depends on where the property is located on the flood map and payment in full is required at the time of application. The cost of a preferred risk policy can be less than $200 annually if you live in a moderate-to-low-risk area.

Purchasing flood insurance

The first step in purchasing flood insurance is to contact your local insurance agent. They will be able to help you determine which type of policy you need. NFIP flood insurance policies can be purchased through thousands of insurance agents nationwide. Ask the agent if your community participates in the NFIP or look it up online at

Local agencies, such as Town & Country Insurance in Hinckley and Finlayson, can help homeowners with the application process for NFIP flood insurance. Rachel Herzfeldt-Skog of Town & Country said homeowners need to be aware of the differences between what flood insurance would cover and what their homeowner’s insurance will cover. For example, flood insurance may not cover personal belongings in a basement, but those items should be covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Herzfeldt-Skog also said that private flood insurance is also available where there may not be a 30-day wait period. However, these companies can put a moratorium on accepting new customers at any time.

Policy costs vary due to factors such as location, the age of your home, how many floors and the coverage options you choose. One thing to note is NFIP policies will cost the same no matter who the agent or company is.

Flood insurance usually takes up to 30 days before it goes into effect, but FEMA suggests asking your agent if you qualify for any exceptions.

The FEMA website says if your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661.

For more information on purchasing flood insurance through Town & Country Insurance, visit their blog at or check their Facebook page or Instagram (@TCInsurance).


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