Flood Damage Vs. Water Damage – There Is A Difference
It has been raining a lot this week in Southern California and I just wrote a flood insurance policy for the first time since 2007, so this is a post about floods. Got it?
Anywhere it rains, it can flood. What defines a flood you ask? A flood is “a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mud-flow.” Many conditions can result in a flood including: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.
Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
Flood is not a covered peril on your property insurance policy. However, that doesn’t mean water damage is not covered at all. There’s a difference between flood damage and water damage and it’s important that you know the difference when it comes to insurance coverage.
As the name implies, a standard flood insurance policy, which is written by the National Flood Insurance Program, provides coverage up to the policy limit for damage caused by 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.
Flood damage to your home or business 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). An excellent resource for flood insurance is Floodsmart.gov, the official site of the NFIP.
HOMEOWNERS/ COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE
Homeowners insurance and commercial property insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage, but they do provide coverage for many types of water damage to your property. Just the opposite from flood damage, for insurance purposes, water damage is considered to occur when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground. A few examples of water damage include:
- A hailstorm smashes your window, permitting hail and rain free access into your home.
- A heavy rain soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling.
- A broken water pipe spews water into your home.
It’s important to note that flood insurance and homeowners insurance do not duplicate coverage for water damage. Instead, they complement each other.
It is up to you to talk to your insurance agent or insurance company about flood insurance and homeowners insurance, and then decide which insurance coverage you need to protect your home, its contents and your family.