Severe flooding has more Idahoans buying insurance

Flooding highlights need for flood insurance.

EAGLE -- Severe flooding is still impacting many areas all across Idaho, highlighting the need for protection on your home and property.

Emergency management officials and insurance agents are pushing you to get coverage if you live in an area that is at risk of being flooded.

Many homeowners all over the Treasure Valley, like the ones who live along the south channel of the Boise River in Eagle, never thought the river would expand so much; and many never thought they would need to purchase flood insurance. But this year, many have - along with hundreds of other Idahoans.

As rivers across the state rise, so do the number of flood insurance policies.

"It's been crazy the calls I've gotten for flood insurance," Associated Insurance Services agent Becky Carlson told KTVB. "And I know if I'm getting them, lots of other agents are as well."

Carlson says she has written 70 brand-new policies, not just for folks mandated to have flood insurance because they are taking out loans for homes located in high-risk zones.

According to FEMA, the number of flood insurance policies throughout the state of Idaho has increased by more than 13 percent, bringing that number to a total of more than 6,800.

Experts say buying flood insurance is a smart move, regardless of whether you're in a high-risk zone.

"It came from the front of the property and flooded the whole subdivision," Eagle resident Tom Moore said as he showed us his front yard. "We had water all the way at the top of these rocks, all the way around."

The Moores live along the south channel of the Boise River, right across from Eagle Island State Park, and they say their house isn't in a high-risk spot. But the river has risen significantly and overrun some of their property. They purchased flood insurance in March after attending a FEMA meeting.

"I said, record snowfall in the mountains, snow has been on the ground here for three months. May be a good idea to buy flood insurance," Moore said. "When you have a claim and you need it then it's worth it... But worse case scenario, what if a dam breaks."

Policies are sold through private insurance agents, like Carlson.

"With the extraordinary snowfall we had this winter I did encourage everyone to consider it very carefully," Carlson said.

Emergency management officials and insurance agents say it's a low-cost and safe investment.

"Don't just rely on, well it's never happened before," Carlson added.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers federally-backed insurance to property owners and renters in participating communities throughout Idaho, which includes the Treasure Valley.

The NFIP can insure a structure against damage up to $250,000, and it can include covering your contents up to $100,000.

"It's not a claim until you have damage," Carlson added.

But there's a 30-day waiting period for the federal insurance policy to take effect after signing up. So officials are encouraging Idahoans to look into getting coverage as soon as possible.

"It's not too late to get flood insurance."

Many people can also get private insurance instead of or in addition to the federally-backed insurance. However, Carlson says it's likely a private insurance company won't issue a policy if your city is in a flood warning.

Carlson says water in your crawl space is not covered by flood insurance and neither are mitigation efforts like buying sandbags; only structural damage can be filed in a claim.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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