A flood of paperwork: Insurance agents abnormally busy

KEEPING BUSY — The July 3 flood has resulted in an added workload for insurance agents all over southwest Minnesota. Local agents like Matt Knakmuhs are no exception.

By Per Peterson

Local insurance agents have found themselves about as busy as they’ve ever been this month after the July 3 flood. The fast and furious deluge also caused the city’s sewer system to back up, which created an additional mess for about half of the homes affected by the flood.

“We have so many different companies that our office writes with, and our adjuster was up here and he was just writing out checks,” said Jeremy Trulock, an insurance agent for Minnwest Investment & Insurance Center. “All of standard homeowner policies come with a $1,000 back-up sewer, and you can have that increased, which I wish we would’ve done with a lot of people.”

Trulock is aware of the situation many homeowners in town are facing: some insurance companies have told their policyholders that the sewage damage is not covered because it was caused by a flood and no one in town has flood insurance.

“We visited about 40 homes after things settled down and it was clear there was sewage coming up through the drains; I get that there was flooding, but there was sewer beforehand and I feel that the insurance companies should be covering the ones that have that sewer in there,” Trulock said. “Our companies are doing pretty good with that.”

Matt Knakmuhs of the Tracy Insurance Agency said he welcomes the chance to have the chicken-or-the-egg argument with any adjuster. If the water comes up from the drain, that, he said, is a back-up claim in his opinion. Knakmuhs said about 70% of his agency’s policies have at least some kind of back-up sewage coverage.

“If I’m purchasing the water back-up endorsement and water comes back up from the drain, I expect to have a claim get paid out,” he said. “I don’t care what caused the back-up; there’s a billion things that can cause the back-up, but if it backs up, we should be able to get paid. There are going to be some battles to be fought. All I ask is for adjusters to look at this from a logical standpoint. I just can’t see a situation where it could go well for the company to decline a claim where a client could take them to court.”

“It’s those situations where insurance companies get a bad name,” he added.

Like the sewer issue, any kind of earth movement deemed a result of the flood is not covered under people’s homeowner’s policy.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.