Flood Damage vs. Water Damage: Do you know the difference?

While all homeowners have homeowner’s insurance, many don’t understand their homeowner’s insurance coverage. Homeowners need to know there are two types of insurance that deal with water damage – flood insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Losses not covered by one may be covered by the other; double check with your public adjuster for clarification.

When choosing a homeowner’s insurance policy, knowing where you live relative to possible natural disasters such as floods, wild fires and hurricanes is important as is knowing what you live around (e.g. a golf course with a less brush and therefore a slower burn rate) and in (e.g. a house with exposed brick will burn slower than a wood house). Weigh your options based on where you live so you know which policies it makes sense to buy. Every homeowner’s insurance company and policy is different, so it’s a good idea to review your policies with your public adjuster so you are aware of the provisions, omissions and clauses of each plan.

While homeowner’s insurance policies differ in the types and amount of coverage they provide, there are basic features common to all policies regardless of the company, including:

  • Flood Insurance: Flood insurance is issued by the National Flood Insurance Program and is a standard flood insurance policy. The policy allows coverage up to the policy limit for damages caused by a flood. A “flood” is defined as a rise and overflow of a body of water onto normally dry land. The operative word being ‘rise’, as insurance companies use it as the distinction between flood damage and water damage. The general rule is water that has been on the ground at some point before causing damage to your home is considered flood damage. For example:
    • Heavy rains cause water to seep into your basement because the soil can’t absorb the water quick enough;
    • Heavy rains and/or a flash flood cause the hill behind your home to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance: Homeowner’s insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage. They do, however, provide water damage coverage for several different types of damage that could occur to your home. “Water damages” are damages that occur to your home before the water comes in contact with the ground.                                                                 For example:
    • A hailstorm smashs your window, permitting hail and rain into your home;
    • Heavy rains soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling;
    • Water floods your home due to a broken pipe.

Losses from theft, fire or explosion resulting from water damage is covered even if the flood and/or water damage itself are not covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, if you live on a canal and a storm causes the canal to overflow and floods your home, then, after you evacuate, criminals break in and steal your belongings, the theft would be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy but the flood damage itself would be covered only if you had flood insurance.

It is important to understand that flood insurance and homeowner’s insurance do not duplicate or replace each other in term of coverage for water damage. Instead, they complement each other for the gray in-between. Contact your public adjuster for a complete summary of your homeowner’s insurance coverage and your water damage coverage. If flood and water damage is not covered, ask your public adjuster for policy pricing and the benefits of adding this additional coverage.

Advocate Claims public adjusters have been helping homeowners file water damage claims for over 10 years. Our licensed public adjusters want to help you minimize your stress and maximize your claim. Call our public adjusters today at 954-369-0573 to learn how we can help you!

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