Homeowners insurance policies leave flood victims bare
Posted at: 09/16/2013 8:19 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Homeowners beleaguered by floodwater or mud may have another headache to overcome: Their insurance policies.
Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
Charles Trujillo, whose Taylor Ranch home was inundated over the weekend, learned some bad news from his insurance agents on Monday.
“They told me that, no, I didn’t have flood insurance, and no, they couldn’t help me with repairs on the house,” he said.
Trujillo is one of plenty of New Mexicans who found out that they’d have to pay for flood damage all on their own.
Only 16,206 New Mexicans – 1,137 of which are in Albuquerque – have a flood insurance policy as of July 31st, according to data from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Insurance agent Noelia Luna-Sucet, who works at Elite Financial Insurance in Albuquerque, said her office has fielded more than a dozen calls from clients who wanted to make a claim, but found out they could not.
“It’s a hard reality, but a lot of people don’t think about it until … the damage has been done,” she said. “People always think, ‘it’s not going to happen to me’ until it’s too late.”
The Trujillo family may receive some assistance from the City of Albuquerque. Engineers working in a Special Assessment District – directly west of the escarpment behind the family’s home – admitted that much of the floodwater was runoff from the project site. The engineers told 4 On Your Side that the heavy rains washed out a portion of flood controls they put in place. They said they have since repaired – and improved – the controls.
Trujillo said he may purchase a flood insurance policy, but he’ll have to wait. Luna-Sucet said the insurance companies she works with are not accepting applications at this time. Even if they were, she said nearly every flood insurance policy takes 30 days to go into effect.
If homeowners choose to apply for a flood insurance policy, Luca-Sucet said it would cost about $800 per year on average. That may seem expensive, but according to national insurance data, a two-inch flood, in a 2,000-square foot home, causes about $21,000 in damage.