During Flood Insurance Awareness Week the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) are urging Wisconsinites to protect their homes and businesses from financial losses due to flooding.

"Just one inch of water in a home can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Last year was the wettest on record in Wisconsin," Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable said. "This week, we are encouraging Wisconsin consumers to learn more about the importance and benefits of flood insurance so they can be sure that they have the financial protection they need before the snow starts melting and the rain starts falling."

Governor Tony Evers proclaimed Feb. 9-15 Flood Insurance Awareness Week in the State of Wisconsin to underscore the importance of obtaining flood insurance before snow melts and spring rainfall begins. Some flood insurance policies, including the policies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), have a 30-day waiting period before they take effect. Gov. Evers released a Flood Insurance Awareness Week video as part of the campaign. OCI and the DNR have also partnered to raise consumer awareness about this issue throughout the week.

Since 2016, Wisconsin has received multiple federal disaster declarations for flooding and severe weather. Just last month, Gov. Evers requested a federal damage assessment for Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha counties in the wake of severe winter storms and lakeshore flooding in those areas.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an increased likelihood of spring flooding throughout Wisconsin in 2020 due to melting snowpack sitting upon already saturated soil. Typical business and homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods, while federal disaster assistance is only available to flood victims if an official declaration has been issued. Even then, that federal aid is available only to those who qualify.

"Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States and yet only 15 percent of homeowners have flood insurance. We want everyone who experiences flooding to have the chance to rebuild as soon as possible," said DNR Secretary-designee Preston D. Cole.

A flood insurance policy can provide coverage with or without a disaster declaration and can help homeowners, renters, and business owners impacted by flooding recover faster. Homeowners in Wisconsin can buy a flood insurance policy through either the NFIP, a federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding, or through a private carrier. Consumers should contact their local insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information about these opportunities.

"Now is a good time for consumers to evaluate their existing insurance coverage and see if they are adequately protected from flood damage," Commissioner Afable said. "If they find gaps in coverage, they can seek a flood insurance policy that meets their needs. An insurance policy cannot reverse the damage inflicted by flooding, but it can help flood victims get back on their feet and on the path to recovery."

For more information about flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or the DNR's Flood Insurance webpage.

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