MN Dept of Commerce Agent Flood Alert
Insurance Agents Should Help Minnesotans Prepare for Probable Costly, Damaging Spring Flood Season
As the spring flood season quickly approaches, Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, reminds all insurance professionals to emphasize to consumers the importance of preparation in order to mitigate potential losses. Agents are strongly urged to reach out to their clients and the general public to inform them of steps that can and should be taken now to address the pending damages in what may be another record year of flooding.
Now is the time to make decisions about flood insurance. Flood insurance policies do not become active until after a 30-day waiting period. Depending upon how quickly this winter's record snowfall melts, consumers and businesses who wait to act could be caught without coverage.
Commissioner Rothman also wishes to remind the insurance community that legislation was passed in 2008 (MN Stat. 65A.302) requiring insurers to provide annual notice to its customers that flood damage is not typically covered under a homeowners/renters policy. Insurance agents are expected to be involved in this notice-delivery process, especially when quoting new business and during normal policy reviews. The statute also requires insurers to notify consumers about the availability of flood coverage, especially if that insurer is a member of the federal government's "Write Your Own" program.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce also issued a bulletin in 2007 (Bulletin 2007-13) reminding agents of their responsibility under federal law to undergo three hours of approved training before selling flood insurance policies. This is currently a one-time requirement under the federal law. The department has taken steps to ensure that classes meeting those requirements have been approved and made available here in Minnesota.
The department also strongly encourages all insurance professionals to familiarize themselves with the wealth of information and materials on the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) website: www.floodsmart.gov. The Minnesota Department of Commerce also has developed a one-stop shop to help Minnesota homeowners and businesses address property damages caused by storms or flooding. One of the most useful tools available on our site is a home inventory checklist that consumers can use to take inventory of their belongings. Homeowners who complete this checklist will find themselves far better prepared to assess their losses in the wake of a disaster.