In the states struggling to mitigate the damage caused by the flooding Missouri River, insurance agents are railing against FEMA. Agents claim that federal officials are at fault for causing widespread confusion amongst property owners by pressuring them to purchase flood insurance.
The main issue is that these hastily solicited policies may not provide the coverage necessary to protect homeowners from the flooding river. Furthermore, several insurance companies in the affected area say that federal officials have been pressuring insurance agents to sell policies that specifically exclude any damage caused by the unabated waters of the Missouri River.
FEMA officials have said that if homeowner’s are unable to find policies that afford them certain coverages they should seek such protections from the National Flood Insurance Program. However, information on whether or not the program will cover the entire extent of the damage is scant, thanks to the complex web of rules that govern it. How much the program will cover can only be determined after the flooding has passed.
The ambiguity coming from FEMA has translated into frustration for insurance agents.
“It causes issues for agents because they can’t give policyholders a definitive answer,” says Larry Case, vice president of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents.
The breakdown in communication seems to stem from a 30-day waiting period before new flood insurance policies become effective. Severe flooding along the Mississippi last month prompted FEMA and insurance companies to encourage homeowner’s to purchase flood insurance, but many of these homeowners waited until the last possible minute. Some are confused as to why their damages will not be covered, while others are frustrated for what they call a lack of clear communication.