So your house has water damage and you want to know if your insurance company is going to fix this for you. You are not alone. The answer to this question is . . . it depends. You will need to read your policy to see what type of water damage your policy covers and excludes. Most homeowners policies will cover damages caused by water that enters your home through a storm created opening in your roof, windows, etc. which allows water to enter your home. If however, the water is seeping into your home from the ground level, then this will be classified as flood damage and your standard homeowners policy will not cover damage caused by the flood waters entering you home. There are so many ways policies can be written for excluding and covering water damage but here is the General Rule for Standard Homeowners Policies on water damage: If you have to look up to see the water coming in (covered); if you have to look down (not covered). And here is FEMA’s flood definition which you can bet your insurance company will be looking to:
- A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
- –Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
- –Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
- Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
Now, if there is concurrent damage from wind driven rain coming in through a storm created opening and flood waters then you will need to prove to your insurance company what damages were caused by the storm created opening to activate your homeowners policy benefits. Using your phone to video how the water is entering your home is great evidence to have to prove your water damages should be covered.
Like we mentioned previously, most standard homeowners insurance policies do not include coverage for flooding. You have to purchase flood insurance separately. It is cheaper than you think. You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent; you cannot buy it directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which is administered by FEMA. If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 888-379-9531. If you have purchased a separate flood insurance policy then you are more likely to receive some benefits to put your home in pre-flooding condition as a result of flood water entering your home. But understand that your flood policy has to be in place for 30 days before it is activated.
It is also worth noting that if you don’t live in a flood plain that doesn’t mean you don’t need flood insurance. Many of the areas in Houston devastated by flooding from Hurricane Harvey were not in the flood plain. Please see this link for homeowners who need aid to fix their homes from flood damage and don’t have flood coverage. How Flood Victims Can Get Financial Help.
If you have any questions about the insurance claims process, insurance policies, coverage questions for recent claims, or the new insurance law going into effect this month here in Texas, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.stormlex.com