When Rising Water Is Called a Flood

When Rising Water Is Called a Flood

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never had our home swept away by flood waters. However, almost every homeowner has had (or will have) trouble with unwanted water in their home. It could be a pipe that bursts while you are away on vacation flooding your upstairs bathroom. Others have had washing machine lines break, covering their floor with 3” of water. Others have water that seeps in their basement during every spring thaw.

Maybe you are wondering, “How does insurance cover this? Do I have to get a separate flood insurance policy?”

In the world of insurance, there are multiple definitions of what constitutes a “flood.” Some floods are addressed easily by insurance, some are clearly excluded.

Under the typical insurance policy the following clause exists:

Water Exclusion Endorsement
“We [the insurance company] will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following:

Water. This includes flood, surface water, waves, tides, tidal waves, overflow of any body of water, or their spray, all whether driven by wind or not; water that backs up or overflows from a sewer, drain or sump; or water under the ground surface pressing on, or flowing or seeping through: foundations, walls, floors or paved surfaces; basements; doors, windows or other openings.”

So, water that comes in from the outside, such as a stream or river that overflows, is not going to be covered on a typical property/home insurance policy.

Insurance coverage for floods is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through certain insurance companies who then are re-insured by the Federal government. These policies may be obtained for buildings as well as contents, but not for loss of business revenue. A thorough review should be made of your exposures to flood loss, and the purchase of appropriate insurance policies should be considered.

A good quality homeowner’s/property policy may cover any damage that comes from a broken or burst pipe, or water that backs up from a clogged water or sewer line. This coverage is not automatic.

Since there is a 30-day “waiting period” before flood coverage goes into effect, it is important to think proactively, and considering the unusual weather patterns that can occur, Merriam Insurance recommends you contact us today to set up an appointment to review your policy coverage. We would welcome the opportunity to provide a brief review at no cost or obligation.

Brian H. Merriam, CPCU, ARM, AAI
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