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Do I Need Flood Insurance To Cover Damage From Water In My House?

If my house is flooded does that mean that I have a flood?

We will get calls from client’s throughout the year, that call to tell us their basement is flooded, or their bathroom is flooded. Does that mean that they will not have coverage because the insurance company considers that a flood?

Flooded Basement, Is it A Flood or Not a Flood?

A homeowner’s insurance policy has a flood exclusion. This flood exclusion means that there is no coverage if rising water comes into the home and causes damage. This rising water could come from a body of water such as a stream or a lake or ocean or it could be sudden rain runoff that the storm drains could not handle and caused it to damage your home. According to FEMA, the definition of a flood “it is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land or of 2 or more properties from the overflow of inland or tidal waters, or unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mud flow.” In these cases you would need to have a flood insurance policy not a homeowner’s insurance policy to provide coverage.

So, the first question we ask when someone calls and tells us that there is house is flooded, is how did the water get there? How the water got there makes all the difference in the world to determine if there will be coverage or not.

Here are some examples:

  • Did a tree land on the home during a storm, ripping a gaping hole in the roof that then let rain in? If so, then it is covered if you have coverage for falling objects, which is typical in most homeowner’s policies.
  • Did the water backup in the home because you lost power and your sump pump did not run during the storm? Or, did the toilet overflow because your five year old put their toy fish down the drain? Or did the sewer line backup, because the people at the top of the hill were flushing diapers and now you not only have water but raw sewage in your home? If you have a coverage on your homeowners called water backup of sewer and drains, then this should be covered under that endorsement, up to purchased limits of that coverage. An unendorsed homeowner’s insurance policy will generally not pick up this claim so you want to be sure that you have the proper insurance coverage.
  • Did a pipe break in the home causing water damage on the 1st floor and down to the basement? Or did the wash machine house bust expectantly and caused a flood in the kitchen? Under most homeowners insurance policies there is coverage for accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from with a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system, or from a household appliance. Although, the insurance company will not pay the cost to fix the pipe or the appliance that caused the discharge, the damage that the water caused to you home and other belongings from the item breaking would be covered as well as the cleanup costs.
  • What about if my house is flooded because the weight of snow or ice caused the roof to collapse? Under a broad form homeowner’s insurance policy or better the weight of snow, ice or sleet would be covered. So check with your Trusted Choice Insurance Agent to see if your policy would cover this.

Where it gets tricky, is let’s say that you have a 28 year old roof and during the storm it starts leaking. If the storm caused damage to the roof the wind removed shingles or caused damage to the roof then the water damage would be covered under most homeowner’s policies. But if the roof leaked because it was old and it needed to be replaced that would not be covered under a homeowner’s policy. A homeowner’s policy is not a maintenance policy and will not cover wear and tear issues. This is another reason it is important that you inspect your home and maintain issues before there is damage.

Your home is most likely the most expensive purchase that you will ever make. Take care of your home, do regular maintenance and make sure that you talk with a licensed insurance professional about the options available to you to be sure that you have the right insurance protection.

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