Water, Water Everywhere…But When It Floods, Is The Damage Covered By Your Insurance?
Just when you stopped worrying that another Polar Vortex would bring more severe cold, snow and ice, rising spring temperatures pose another risk: water damage—caused by ice dams, ice jams and flooding, according to Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
Water can be extraordinarily destructive. It only takes a few inches of water to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, pointed out the I.I.I. In fact, water damage and freezing was the second most frequent home insurance claim from 2008 to 2012.
“Many consumers don’t understand what type of water loss is covered, what is not, nor the various types of policies available to them,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, chief communications officer for the I.I.I. “Fortunately, coverage is available so it is important to contact your insurance professional to make sure that you have both the right type and amount of insurance.”
Generally speaking, water that comes from the top down is covered by homeowners or renters insurance. For example, if wind shatters a window or damages the roof allowing rain or snow to get into the home, this is covered. Water damage caused by burst pipes and ice dams on a roof (a situation where melting snow is unable to drain properly through gutters, resulting in water seepage that can cause damage to ceilings, walls and even furniture) is also generally covered by home insurance policies.
However, water that comes from the bottom up, such as an overflowing stream, river or lake caused by melting snow is covered separately, by flood insurance.
Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurance companies. Excess flood insurance also is available from some private insurers if you need additional coverage above and beyond the basic policy, or live in a community that does not participate in the NFIP.
A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to be costly. In fact, 25 percent of all NFIP flood claims are for homes outside of high-risk zones. To learn about your flood risk and locate an agent, visit FloodSmart.gov.
Check whether your homeowners or renters insurance includes coverage for sewer and drain back-up. You may need to purchase a rider to cover this type of water damage.
Water damage to a car is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
The I.I.I. recommends you follow these four simple steps to protect yourself from water-related disasters:
- Contact your insurance professional. Make sure you understand all of your insurance options. Taking the time to ask questions and make informed insurance decisions can provide important financial protection.
- Prepare an emergency plan. The I.I.I.’s free mobile app, Know Your Plan makes it easy to be ready when disaster strikes. Preparedness information is also available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready.gov and NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation.
- Conduct a home inventory. Documenting your belongings will help you buy the right amount of insurance, makes claim filing easier and can be used to document financial losses when filing tax returns or applying for financial assistance after a disaster. Using the I.I.I.’s free Know Your Stuff software will ensure you have an updated home inventory, accessible anywhere, any time.