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Advocates Warn Arkansans to Avoid Flood-Insurance Scams

Hundreds of homes and other structure are partially or fully submerged in record floodwaters over the past few weeks. (FEMA)
Hundreds of homes and other structure are partially or fully submerged in record floodwaters over the past few weeks. (FEMA)
June 4, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Consumer advocates are warning Arkansans affected by rising waters in parts of the state to beware of scammers selling fake flood insurance.

In recent weeks, floodwaters have hit record levels along the Arkansas River and other tributaries following torrential storms upstream. Homeowners and renters should be aware of unscrupulous people selling worthless insurance coverage for rising water damage after the floodwaters already are there. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said it's a case of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

"I have warned against individuals claiming to sell flood-insurance policies perhaps via telephone or even email,” Rutledge said. “Most Arkansans that are in the insurance business have told customers, 'Unfortunately, it's too late to make that purchase.'"

The National Flood Insurance Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Flood coverage must be obtained before a flooding event begins, and in most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy is instated.

More information is available at FloodSmart.gov.

Rutledge said scammers often will contact homeowners with high-pressure sales pitches claiming they can provide flood coverage even after the storms have begun. She said if they want flood insurance, homeowners and renters should buy a policy from a licensed insurance broker or agency at the same time each year they obtain other policies.

"Flood insurance is a separate policy. So, most homeowners and renters who have insurance policies, it does not include flood insurance," she explained.

She added once the floodwaters subside, homeowners also should be careful about the contractors they hire to help repair the damage.

"Most are good people, but, unfortunately, we do have some unscrupulous characters who try to take advantage of folks,” Rutledge said. “Hire someone that comes highly recommended to you. The contractors do not need to receive all the money up front. Be very cautious about paying with straight-up cash."

Rutledge said Arkansans who feel they have been scammed or misled when seeking help with flood damage should contact her office or the Arkansas Insurance Department for assistance.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR