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Time to think about flood insurance?

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Apr. 15, 2011 at 6:11 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE VALLEY -- It's not often you'll find an insurance agent who is worried, but Joshua Wittwer is.

"Absolutely, there's a lot of snow up there," said Wittwer, who is a senior account manager with Trustco in Salt Lake City.

It's not that Wittwer is worried about how many claims his company might have to pay out this coming spring, with all the talk of potential flooding from an above average snowpack. He's just worried how many homeowners out there think they have flood insurance when, in reality, they don't.

In most cases, flood coverage is a completely separate policy from homeowner's insurance. "The kind of flood we're talking about, spring runoff, groundwater flood, is not included." -Insurance agent Joshua Wittwer

"I think one of the main misconceptions is in your homeowner's policy," said Wittwer. "Typically, you'll have coverage for broken pipes and different types of water damage, and people think that extends to runoff waters as well, and it does not."

In most cases, flood coverage is a completely separate policy.

"The kind of flood we're talking about, spring runoff, groundwater flood, is not included," said Wittwer. "It's a specific policy that you have to buy separately."

Also, in most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period once you sign up for flood coverage. You're typically not covered the very next day.

Many flood experts in Utah say the spring runoff this season is going to be a lot higher than normal. There is high potential for flooding, and most Utah residents do not have flood insurance.

However, Denny Jensen, who owns Utah Disaster Kleenup in Draper, says most Utah residents will never need it.

"It's a dry, arid state," Jensen said. "We live in a desert, and most of us don't even think about it."

Flood Watch 2011

Even when there is flood damage, Jensen feels it's not as bad as in other states closer to large bodies of water.

"It's not catastrophic here, it's inconvenient," Jensen said. "It's costly to some people, but it's not enough to get everybody riled up to make sure everybody has flood insurance."

Jensen's biggest concern with water damage is the potential for mold.

"If your carpet or furniture or baseboards get wet, you have to dry it out or replace it," he said. "Once you get into that moldy bacterial situation, it's going to become very expensive."

Jensen has been in business for more than 30 years in Utah. Most of the time, the people who call him don't have flood insurance and are surprised when they realize they're not covered for flooding.

"It's very rare that we ever come across anybody that does have flood insurance," Jensen said. "In fact, I would say 90 percent of the homeowners along the Wasatch Front do not have flood insurance."

Jensen feels, for homeowners, it all depends on how comfortable you are with where you live and what type of risk you're willing to take.


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Alex Cabrero


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