|By Robin Washington, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
And she's heard about enough.
"People say nobody here has flood insurance. I tell them, 'I do, but it doesn't cover anything,'" said Kokkonen, who has to carry flood insurance even though her home is in hilltop
"I had about 6 inches of water," Kokkonen said of the unfinished basement where she keeps material for her sewing avocation. "I have a lot of plastic bins. When they start floating, they go on their side and fill with water."
The result was a lot of cleanup and laundry days, for which her
"I didn't have anything to claim. I don't have a washer and dryer down there. I only have two electrical outlets," both higher than the water came up to, she says. She could spring for full contents coverage at about twice the premium, but with the 500-year storm projected every 500 years, figures it's not worth it.
"I understand her disappointment," said
Kokkonen's not cursing her agent,
"Very few people have flood insurance in this area because there are very few areas that would require it," said Flaig, who recalled selling only three policies, including Kokkonen's, over the past decade.
"One person who moved from
Great. Did he use it?
"No. He didn't have flooding."
Yet hundreds of other homes in low-risk areas did, including mine, which got 2 inches in the basement. After hearing horror stories about floating couches and TVs, I now consider it a selling point ("Four bdrms, 2 ba, lake view, only 2 in. of H20 in flood!")
If some low-risk homeowners now wish they had flood policies (a calculator on the NFIP's floodsmart.gov website gave me an estimate of
"There's actually a requirement in the federal law that if your home has a mortgage backed by the federal government and you live in an especially high-hazard zone, you have to buy flood insurance," said
The group's interest, of course, is to sell insurance, and the federal law sounds eerily close to one that mandates everyone buy health insurance. A few municipalities have reached similar conclusions, opting out of NFIP -- which sounds good until a flood comes and the communities are declared ineligible for federal disaster assistance.
And if some disagree with being forced to pay to stay well, try convincing a bank to loan money for a house that might go tumbling down
"We are (hearing) from homeowners, 'I never had to get flood insurance before. Why are they making me get it now?'" Kulda said. "Those bad loans were acquired by federally backed banks. Now they're the guarantors."
Which is one reason Kulda says the myth "you can't buy flood insurance" drives him up the wall.