Probably the most devastating, type of water claim is from flooding. Flooding is also probably the most misunderstood of the types of water claims.The reason for the misunderstanding is that floods are not normally covered by most homeowner insurance policies.
As the name implies, a standard flood insurance policy, which, in the U.S., is written by the National Flood Insurance Program, provides coverage up to the policy limit for damage caused by flood.
What Exactly is a Flood?
The dictionary defines “flood” as a rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land. For insurance purposes, the word “rising” in this definition is the key to distinguishing flood damage from water damage. Generally, damage caused by water that has been on the ground at some point before damaging your home is considered to be flood damage. A handful of examples of flood damage include:
- A nearby river overflows its banks and washes into your home.
- A heavy rain seeps into your basement because the soil can’t absorb the water quickly enough.
- A heavy rain or flash flood causes the hill behind your house to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.
What Covers Flood Damage?
If an individual relies on a homeowner’s insurance policy to cover whatever flood damage occurs, the result will not be favorable to the property owner. Flood damage to your home can be insured only with a flood insurance policy—no other insurance will cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available through your insurance agent, insurance company or local Federal Emergency Management Office (FEMA).
A good rule of thumb in trying to determine if there is coverage for water damage is, “if the water comes down, it might be covered. If it comes up, it is usually not covered.”
What Federal Flood Insurance Won’t Cover
Federal flood insurance does not cover rain entering through wind‐damaged windows, doors, or a hole in the wall or roof that results in standing water or puddles inside your home. This type of damage is considered wind storm damage and may be covered by your homeowner policy, not your flood insurance policy.
To determine if your home is located in a flood plain, contact your county planning office or log on to www.freeflood.com, register and submit your address. If you are living in a flood plain, flood insurance may be worthwhile.
For information on federal flood insurance in the U.S., visit the National Flood Insurance website, or call toll free at 1‐888‐379‐9531 or 1‐800‐611‐6122.
Stacey Arredondo is the Personal Lines Manager for the Houston, Texas office. She provides leadership for a staff of professionals who manage more than 2,000 clients mainly within the coastal area of Texas.