Our friends at FEMA and the Flood Insurance programs remind us that recent June flooding near the Waldo Canyon (Colorado)burn scar is a reminder of the increased flood risk for flooding and mudflows for years after a wildfire is extinguished.
Wild fires leave the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water due to the destruction of the vegetation, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflows.
Typically, there is a 3-day waiting period before a standard flood insurance policy will go into effect. However, very recent legislation has provided for an exception to the 30-day waiting period rule. For Flood Insurance coverage needed for wildfire-related flood damage, you simply must purchase a Flood Insurance policy within 60 days of the fire containment date. Then, you’ll be covered for flood damage due to flooding caused by or exacerbated by post-wildfire conditions on Federal land.
FEMA will post the containment date on its website at FEMA.gov. Per FEMA Bulletin W-12079, the issued policy will initially include the 30-day waiting period. However, the waiting period exception is determined at the time of loss, not at the time of policy application. The claims adjuster will determine the source of floodwater and make a recommendation to the insurer. Only the insurer can authorize or deny coverage.
While the fire doesn’t have to begin on Federal land, the only requirement for the 30-day exception is that flooding on Federal land must be caused by or made worse by the wildfire on Federal land, and that the flood then damages National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insured property. So, this is a limited but potentially very good exception to the 30-day waiting period rule.
So, as we move into more burns this Summer and Fall, keep this in the back of your mind: If you live in an area that could be subject to flooding because of a burn on Federal property, you may wish to protect your property with Flood Insurance asap.
(The bulk of this article was provided to you rom information sent by FEMA to insurance agents 7/24/13)