Your first concern with storm-related flooding is personal safety. Every year, almost as many people die from flooding as from hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined. More people drown while in their vehicle than anyplace else.
Don’t Drown Turn Around is more than a catchy tagline, it’s a lifesaver. Never drive through flooded roads.
As far as your home is concerned, the operative word in storm-related flooding is “flooding.”
Floods caused by weather or other external water sources are generally not covered by homeowners insurance. You need a separate flood insurance policy to cover the damages.
However, that does not mean that water damage caused by a storm is not covered.
About Flood Insurance
Flooding — be it by rivers overflowing, levee failures, tidal surge, or massive rains that flood an area — is only covered by insurance if you have a policy with the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These are federal policies, but you can purchase them from almost any insurance company. Other than the NFIP, there is one option that covers flooding caused by an outside sewer or drainage line. You may be eligible to purchase water backup coverage that can help with damages from that kind of “flooding” event. Consult with your insurance agent.
Flooding is widely defined as water rising. For example, rain by itself is not flooding. The pooling and accumulation of rainwater on the ground is. So, storm-related “flooding” would only be covered by an NFIP policy.
Understanding Your Perils
Your homeowners policy insures you against loss from certain threats or perils. The policies are written as “named-perils” where each risk is named, or an “all-peril” that just lists what is not covered, or a combination. The time to understand your perils is before you need to file a claim, not afterward. Insurance policies are difficult to read and understand so it’s important that you review your policy with the assistance of your agent.
Water damage from rain is covered in some circumstances
For example, your policy will exclude damages from flooding. But if a storm rips part of your roof off, or a tree is blown over crashing through a window, and rain is driven in creating “water damage,” you will most likely be covered. In this instance, the covered asset is the “dwelling” and the covered peril is “wind damage”.
Which makes determining what is covered and what is not sort of malleable depending on how you can mix and match covered items to covered perils.
When the immediate flood danger passes, your first call should be to your insurance agent. Not only will you figure out if you have coverage, but your agent will be a great resource for recommending restoration services.
Availability of Flood Insurance
In some instances, you will be required to purchase an NFIP policy to cover flooding. Mortgage lenders loaning on homes situated on a floodplain are required by law to require NFIP coverage as a condition of the loan. The NFIP program enables property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance, administered by the government, against losses from flooding. The Act that created the NFIP flood insurance for all loans or lines of credit that are secured by “existing buildings, manufactured homes, or buildings under construction, that are located in a community that participates in the NFIP.”
If a flood hits and your car suffers water damage, you are protected if you have “comprehensive” coverage on your auto policy. If you have a mobile or manufactured home, your “homeowners” policy may include coverage for flooding.