Most areas not covered by flood insurance

HANCOCK — Most homeowners’ insurance doesn’t include coverage for floods, leaving many people affected without a way to receive assistance for their losses.

Shelly Peltier, a resident of Coles Creek Road in Stanton Township, had roughly 8 feet of water in her basement after Sunday’s floods. She had contacted her insurance company, but was unable to get insurance.

“I haven’t found one person yet that is,” she said.

Chassell and Osceola townships are the only municipalities in Houghton County that are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood insurance program, according to Houghton County’s hazard mitigation plan.

Homeowners outside those areas can still purchase surplus line insurance for flooding, although at an elevated price.

Jeff Mikesch, agent and vice president at the Tervo Agency in Hancock, said he had gotten calls over the past couple of summers from homeowners in the Baraga area and along the Portage Canal.

“It was once of those things where we said you can get insurance,” he said. “You look at what they had to pay in premiums, and some people can’t afford that.”

In a flood hazard assessment, FEMA develops a flood insurance study and a rate map. Lenders use that to determine flood insurance requirements, while insurance agents use it to determine rates for individual properties, according to the mitigation plan.

Most other communities do not regularly experience severe flooding. Areas with a likelihood greater than 1-in-100 for exceeding a critical flood level are considered Special Flood Hazard Areas. According to the plan, the only one in Houghton County to qualify is Chassell Township, where Sturgeon River floods frequently.

Mikesch said some companies may cover water damage depending on how it came into the home. Some people may have insurance that covers sewage or drain backups. Some companies will cover it even if the water comes in through the foundation, Mikesch said.

Even if a flood claim appears, it will be denied. Mikesch said his agency will still submit it, since homeowners seeking federal aid later will have to show they went through the proper channels.

“We’ve been trying to spread the word: Anything that took place, let us know,” he said. “We’re still going to submit the claim if it gets denied or not. They’re still going to have the claim when they call 2-1-1. If we get federal funding, they can call FEMA and report that loss as well.”