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 Many conditions can result in a flood including: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.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.
Apparently, it is flood safety awareness week. I had no clue.
With the potential for massive snow melt and rain storms, many communities nationwide face the threat of flooding this spring. When it comes to insuring your home or business from floods, the most important thing to note is that flood is NOT a covered peril on your property insurance policy. Flood insurance must be purchased separately and can financially protect your property and belongings from costly flood damage.
Flood Safety Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was created to highlight the causes and consequences of flooding and educate communities on how to prepare for and protect their homes and businesses from the devastating effects of flooding.
Tips & Tools You Can Use
The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) FloodSmart Campaign is working with FEMA and NOAA to encourage home and business owners to take the steps necessary now to guard against the risks of flooding. Here are some tools and resources you can use:
- Ready.gov/floodawareness: Visit the Ready’s Flood Safety Awareness landing page for fact sheets and other important preparedness tips.
- FloodSmart.gov: Visit FloodSmart.gov’s homepage to find important spring preparedness and flood insurance information and outreach tools.
- Blog posts and social media promotion. FEMA will be blogging and spreading the word through their social media tools (Facebook and Twitter) next week.
Check out this intense raw footage from of heavy flooding in Toowoomba, Australia on Monday. A true lesson on the power of Mother Nature:
Floods are not covered by a homeowners or commercial property insurance policy. Rather, they must be covered on a separate policy. Homeowners and commercial property insurance covers damage to your property if caused by other perils, such as a fire or a tree falling, but water damage that results from flooding is not included in homeowners coverage.
What Is Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance provides protection from flooding which your home or business may experience. Flood insurance is a national program that’s backed by the federal government, which means you’ll pay the same price regardless of who sells you a flood insurance policy.
Purchasing flood insurance is fairly simple and may be required by your mortgage company if you live in an area that has a higher risk of flooding. In most cases, if you’re required to have flood insurance, the amount of coverage you should have should match the cost to rebuild your home or building.
What Types of Flooding Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance covers flooding or rising waters due to sources such as rivers overflowing from melting snow, ocean surge driven by a hurricane, and failed dams or levees. If any of these situations could apply to your home or business, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance if it’s not already required.
How to Find Out If You’re at Risk
The National Flood Insurance Program offers a flood risk profile to determine if your house is in a high-risk flood area. The site also offers helpful information and tools that include how much a flood could actually cost you, types of flood insurance policies, and how to prepare for and recover from a flood.
Where to Buy Flood Insurance
If you determine you need flood insurance, you may be able to purchase it from your insurance agent. If your agent doesn’t sell flood insurance, you can find coverage through the NFIP.
Note that when it comes to your auto insurance, flood is covered as long as you carry comprehensive physical damage on your vehicle and you have no special exclusions on your policy.