HOME INSURANCE: Water main breaks not covered? - New York News

HOME INSURANCE: Water main breaks not covered?

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A water main break in downtown Minneapolis forced dozens of people out of their homes after their condo building flooded, but residents are now learning they may have to pick up the tab for the damage.

Nearly 48 hours after water began rushing in, the Sexton building is still without power. Many of the people who live there may have to wait days to return home, and though most residents do have homeowners insurance, it may not cover the cost of their water-logged belongings.

"The water came right up here on the couch," Scott Woller demonstrated.

The bottom floor of the family's 2-story condo flooded, and Woller told Fox 9 News they're still trying to salvage what they can.

"There was so much sand and sediment in the water," he said.

As they look at the damage, the Wollers can't help but worry about whether the water main break might cost them if their homeowner's insurance leaves them high and dry.

"As a downtown resident, you aren't thinking, 'Boy, we better -- Downtown Minneapolis floods all the time," Woller explained. "It's just kind of off the radar, and so we definitely didn't give it a second thought to not have flood insurance."

The Insurance Federation of Minnesota says since the water came from a water main break outside the building, a typical homeowner's policy wouldn't cover the damage -- and although there is flood insurance available to make a home livable again, it wouldn't cover the cost of replacing personal belongings.

"There is a gap that consumers need to know about," said Mark Kulda. "If you are thinking about flood insurance, know that it doesn't pay for everything. There is a hard limit and it doesn't pay for everything, so you need to know that going in."

Out of one million homes in Minnesota, there are only about 9,000 active flood insurance policies in the state, according to the federation. The average policy costs about $650 a year, and contrary to popular belief, anyone can buy it -- even in the middle of the city.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is you have to live in a flood plain to get flood insurance. That's not true," assured Kulda. "People have heard misinformation from their insurance agents. The only rule is your town or municipality has to participate in the flood insurance program."

Yet, even if the Wollers had flood insurance, they may still be out of luck since it usually doesn't cover damages below ground. So, they help that sharing their story will help other potential flood victims keep their heads above water.

"A lot of frustration along the way, but again, we love the city and we love living here," Woller said. "Can't imagine doing anything else, but this has been several layers of the unexpected."

The Wollers told Fox 9 News the city is offering to pay for hotel rooms for those displaced by the break, and Minneapolis officials say victims should keep track of their expenses related to the break so they can file a claim for those not covered by insurance.

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