Friday, October 2, 2009

Update on flood insurance problems in Green River Valley: A few companies reportedly selling coverage

Businesses below the weakened Howard Hanson dam, as we’ve written, are finding it difficult to find insurance above the federal flood insurance limits ($500k building, $500k contents). The Green River Valley area below the dam includes many businesses worth far more than that.

In such cases, we’ve been urging people to get the maximum federal coverage, then talk to their agents and brokers about so-called “surplus lines” coverage for the rest of the property value. But the Army Corps of Engineers has said it may have to spill extra water this rainy season to avoid stressing a weakened abutment adjacent to the dam. Not surprisingly, private flood coverage has largely dried up in the region as a result. Our office has also received reports of flood policies in the area being canceled recently.

A few brokers are reportedly still writing flood policies in the area, although it’s likely to be expensive. The Surplus Line Association of Washington is asking its members to notify the association of anyone with flood coverage available in the area, and has started listing the results on its website. There are two brokers listed on the website as I write this, just after 4 p.m. on Friday.

“This is an opportunity for the Surplus Lines Community to shine and help our region at a time when there is limited availability,” association manager Bob Hope wrote in an email to members Tuesday.