Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Areas hit by wildfire are at risk for flood damage – are you covered?

We are reaching the end of a “normal” fire season, thanks to this year’s snowpack and spring rain. While that is good news, the more than 15,000 acres that have burned are at higher risk for flash flooding and mudflows. Vegetation absorbs water and reduces runoff that causes mudflows. Even areas that are not historically prone to flood are at risk due to the landscape changes caused by fire. Flood risk remains high until vegetation grows back, up to five years after the fire. That means that the million-plus acres that burned the last two summers are still at higher risk for flooding and mudflows. 
Photo courtesy Washington state Department of Natural Resources

Homeowner’s and commercial insurance policies do not cover flood or mudflow damage. Consumers who want to protect their property must purchase a flood policy, available only through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Most properties qualify for flood insurance, as long as it is located in a community that participates in the program.

Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period before your flood insurance policy takes effect. This time of year is a good time to do some research into flood insurance, before the fall and winter weather that can bring floods start in earnest.

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Questions? Get more information about flood insurance or contact our consumer advocates.