Monday, August 30, 2010

How to find flood insurance in WA's Green River Valley

About this time last year, some businesses in Washington state's Green River Valley started discovering that it was extremely difficult to get -- or afford -- flood coverage. The reason was no mystery: The Army Corps of Engineers, citing a weakened abutment to the nearby Howard Hanson Dam, pegged the risk of serious flooding at 1 in 3.

A year later, the Corps and contractors have done extensive work, and the risk is now believed to be about 1 in 60. (The normal risk is about 1 in 140.) As the Corps noted in a recent PowerPoint, the La Nina weather pattern can also bring back-to-back rainstorms, could require the Corps to rapidly draw down the pool of water behind the dam.

We're still urging homeowners in the area to strongly consider flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. And although August may seem like an odd time to be thinking about flooding, the federal coverage doesn't take effect until 30 days after a policy's issued.

For businesses in particular, the federal coverage -- which is limited to $500k for the building and $500k for contents -- may not be enough. So our office launched a "Washington Flood Market Assistance Plan," which is a sort of matchmaking service connecting businesses needing coverage with insurers selling it.

More than two dozen insurance companies are participating, and the program's run by the Surplus Line Association of Washington, an industry association.

To learn more, please see our web page and FAQs on the program.

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