UI Seeks Insurance Waiver to Satisfy FEMA Requirement

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa - University of Iowa officials are seeking a waiver from the university's insurance commissioner that they hope will satisfy a Federal Emergency Management Agency requirement that all flood-damaged properties have individual flood insurance.

Under FEMA rules, when the agency pays to help repair a flood-damaged building, the entity receiving the funds must have flood insurance on that property going forward.

The UI does have commercial flood insurance on its properties damaged in the 2008 flood, but it's a blanket $2 billion policy that covers all campus buildings, UI Spokesman Tom Moore said. A blanket policy is more affordable than having individual policies on each building, he said.

But UI officials recently were informed by Iowa Homeland Security that FEMA does not accept a blanket policy for evidence of flood insurance and may require higher limits. However, FEMA does allow this requirement to be waived by the State Insurance Commissioner under certain conditions, Moore said.

The university is working to obtain that waiver on the basis that obtaining flood insurance on each individual building is not reasonable or cost effective. If the university is unable to obtain a waiver that FEMA accepts, FEMA could deny reimbursement of eligible expenses in the close-out process, officials said.

"We don't have the waiver yet, but we should have it, and hopefully that will solve it," Moore said. "We just became aware of it, so we're addressing the issue."

The UI's flood update that will go to the state Board of Regents next week also notes that FEMA time extensions have been granted on several major flood replacement and recovery projects.

The projects remain on schedule, Moore said, and the extensions just provide a little more "wiggle room" in case the completion dates need to be adjusted slightly.

"It just gives us the option of pushing back completion dates should we need to," he said. "We're still talking three years out on some of these projects, so at this point, it's just a procedural step to ensure we have some built-in cushion."

The extensions granted are: School of Music replacement, September 2016; Art Building replacement, May 2016; Hancher Auditorium replacement, May 2016; Iowa Memorial Union recovery and mitigation, June 2015; and Theatre Building recovery and mitigation, August 2015.

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