Homeowners Insurance Coverage Doesn’t Cover Man’s Basement Damage

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Jones was referring to his homeowners insurance, not flood insurance as first reported in this story.

From sandbagging operations to possibly closing Falls Park, Sioux Falls city officials are bracing for the Big Sioux River to rise significantly. They are telling people to plan ahead for the possibility of more flooding in the coming days. Crews are most concerned about Skunk Creek and spots along the Big Sioux River. Mayor Paul TenHaken says Falls Park will likely close. He also reminds people not to drive or walk around barricades for your own safety. The city also says it is developing a sandbag operation.

This is no doubt disappointing news for people who are still cleaning up from last week’s flood. For many, it will cost thousands of dollars to repair the damage, and unfortunately, flood insurance doesn’t cover everything.

Todd Jones lives near 41st and Lotta Streets, one of the hardest-hit areas in Sioux Falls during last week’s flooding. His basement was underwater and a wall collapsed.

“I’m just violated … it’s just terrible,” Jones said.  

He got some disappointing news from his insurance agent on Monday.

“I got a collapsed south wall, and I don’t know, is the homeowners going to help me with stuff I’ve lost around the yard, and in my shed, and in my garage,” Jones said. “I lost my 2018 Harley-Davidson is shot, it’s out in the garage, brand new and not even 2,000 miles on it.”

Jones says his personal belongings won’t be covered by his homeowners insurance. Insurance agent Dean Karsky says that’s often the case. 

“Flood insurance typically covers what’s above grade, meaning above ground-level,” Karsky said. “So if you’re worried about your basement flooding, and you buy flood insurance policy, you will have some coverage. You won’t have coverage for carpeting or personal property.”

But flood coverage and a home policy are very different things.

“I’m not aware of any home policy written in the industry that covers actual flooding off of a regular home policy,” Karsky said.

Whatever is and isn’t covered, figuring out how to pay for all the damage can be just as overwhelming.

“It’s devastating, actually,” Jones said. “Living like a hermit in my bedroom and my bathroom.”

Karsky says there’s a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance, so if you didn’t have it and wanted to buy it now, it wouldn’t cover what happened last week.

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