Hurricanes produce destructive winds, driving rain, and surging flood waters. The federal government requires homeowners that live in high-risk flood zones to have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, some lenders require flood insurance outside these zones if the flood risk is high enough. Properties outside flood-prone areas can still experience water damage from numerous sources. It’s critical to understand what water damage a homeowner’s or property insurance policy will cover and what it will not.
Flood Waters Vs. Wind-Driven Rain
Homeowner’s and property insurance policies often specifically exclude flood damage as a covered peril or loss. However, these policies do offer coverage from water damage in certain circumstances. The NFIP defines a flood as an excess of water on typically dry land. The water must partially or fully submerge two or more acres or two or more properties. It can come from any source, such as:
- Surging inland or tidal waters
- Atypical and rapid water buildup or runoff from any source
- A mixture of water and mud carried by a current over usually dry land (i.e., mudflow or mudslide)
- Collapsing or sinking land along a shore due to erosion caused by unusual waves or water currents.
However, homeowner’s and property insurance policies may cover water damage caused by wind-driven rain, lightning, or hail. For example, wind may bring a tree down on a roof, or lightning may strike it, resulting in a hole. Rain can then enter the home and cause water damage. These policies often cover the damage if the standing water wouldn’t have otherwise occurred without these events.
Which Policy Do Property Owners Need?
Much like most homeowner’s and property insurance policies exclude flood damage, flood insurance does not cover wind- and hail-driven water damage. When hurricanes strike, it can be hard to distinguish flood damage from other types of water damage. Property owners that live in or near flood-prone areas need a separate flood insurance policy, but they can’t afford to overlook their homeowner’s or property insurance coverage. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to discuss your existing policies to ensure you have full coverage against water damage.