Homeowners who are at risk for flooding, mud flows and debris flows in and around the 416 Fire burn scar might be exempted from the 30-day waiting period most flood insurance requires before it becomes effective.
Diana Herrera, a regional flood insurance specialist with Region 8 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said under provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program, homeowners in the 416 Fire burn scar have until Sept. 29 to buy flood insurance through NFIP to have the 30-day waiting period before the insurance becomes effective waived. A waiver, she said, would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The NFIP insurance, which Herrera estimated would cost about $450 to $500 annually for a house without a basement, allows for an exemption that would make flood insurance effective in one day, not 30, if flooding danger is exacerbated by a fire on federal land.
NFIP flood insurance for homes caps damage payments and $250,000 and $100,000 for contents, Herrera said.
When containment of the 416 Fire, which burned mostly in the San Juan National Forest, was declared July 30, it triggered a 60-day window during which homeowners can purchase NFIP flood insurance and ask for the waiver.
“If people buy NFIP insurance before Sept. 29, there’s a good chance the 30-day wait period would be waived,” Herrera said of people living in and around the 416 Fire burn scar.
Herrera was in Durango last week and conducted training with private insurance agents, and she said many agents in the county are familiar with NFIP flood insurance policies.
Private insurance companies also offer flood insurance, she said.
Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, said the federal government has been trying to privatize the flood insurance market, but the vast majority of policies are still obtained through the NFIP.
Damage from flooding is not typically covered in conventional home insurance policies.
“I would urge anyone upslope or downslope from the 416 Fire to consult their insurance agent about flood insurance,” Herrera said. “Flooding in the burn scar will remain an issue not only this year but for several years to come.”