Officials: File flood insurance claims

Homeowners and business owners with damage from flooding who possess flood insurance should file a claim now, according to disaster officials.

�The sooner you file, the sooner you are likely to get paid,� said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark Neveau of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the National Flood Insurance Program. �There is a process to go through, and the sooner people start that process the better.�

A phone call from you starts the claim. After your claim is filed, an insurance adjustor comes to the damaged property, and the adjustor and homeowner agree on a list of all the damaged property. Normally this list, called a "proof of loss," must be filed within 60 days of the damage occurring. That deadline has been extended by the National Flood Insurance Program to 120 days for all policyholders in South Dakota affected by flooding beginning on or after June 1, 2011.

�We extended the deadline because the Missouri waters have been abnormally high for weeks,� explained Neveau. �Many people cannot see their damages yet. No one needs to worry about meeting the proof of loss deadline – but start your claim now to get your money as soon as possible.�

To be in effect, a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program must have been purchased at least 30 days before flooding begins, or at the closing of a loan. This year's floods along the Missouri River because of dam releases are considered to have started June 1, the date record-high releases started at Garrison Dam in North Dakota and the date which was subsequently ruled by the Corps of Engineers as the beginning of a flood in progress.

Neveau said there were 6,173 National Flood Insurance Program policies in effect in South Dakota as the spring floods began. Overland flooding from any source that affects two properties or covers two acres or more may trigger a claim. Neveau urged policyholders to contact their insurance agent to determine if they are eligible.

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