Will Insurance Pay for Flood Damage in Ft Lauderdale?
Will Insurance Pay for Flood Damage?
Water is one of the main necessities of life and it can be a lifesaver when a fire strikes, but when water suddenly accumulates as the result of a storm or rising tide it can become a powerful foe.
Water damage is one of the most common claims made by homeowners, with 1 in 50 homeowners claiming flood or water damage each year.
It’s no wonder then, that one of the most frequent questions insurance agents get is whether insurance will pay for flood damage. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/american-homeowners-and-their-insurers-face-a-flooding-crisis-from-within-11551960001)
The short answer is that flood damage is generally not covered by most homeowner’s policies.
Of course, there are other ways that water can damage your home and some of them may be covered, which can lead to confusion when making a claim.
In order to more specifically determine what is and isn’t covered it’s first necessary to understand the various types of water damage.
Types of Damage
The three most common types of water damage are sewer or water backup, overflow and discharge, and flooding.
The ability of any of these types of damage to be covered by your insurance may depend on the cause of the damage.
Generally speaking, the damage that results from a sudden or accidental source can be covered and damage that results from long term wear that wasn’t properly addressed likely won’t be covered, but the specifics of your situation may vary.
Sewer or Water Backup –
as the name indicates, sewer backup is when water comes up or is pushed into your home via the sewage or drainage pipes. Sewer backups can be the result of a blocked city main, aging sewer system, tree roots that block a pipe or a backup of the drainage system in your home.
Cleanup from this type of backup can be costly and more often than not, sewer backup is not included in a standard homeowner policy.
Overflow and Discharge Damage –
This is the type of water damage that occurs when pipes burst or a washing machine overflows. It is the most common type of water damage, but the ability to be covered by insurance depends on the cause.
In order to be covered, the cause has to be sudden and accidental rather than maintenance or wear and tear issues.
Flood Damage –
this is the type of damage that occurs when a large amount of water accumulates inside your home in a short amount of time.
Trying to determine whether you have a flood damage claim can be more confusing than you’d think.
There is a distinct difference between general water damage and flood damage and that can make the difference when it comes to your insurance.
The official definition of a flood includes general or partial inundation of two or more acres of land that affects two or more properties that are normally on dry land.
If your home is the only one affected, then you will probably not have a flood claim, no matter how much water you may have.
If the water accumulation in your home was sudden and accidental, however, it could still be covered as a water damage claim.
If other homes have also been affected, then your claim would fall under the definition of a flood. Unfortunately, this means you will likely not have any coverage as most flooding is not covered by home insurance policies.
In order to get reimbursement in these cases, you would need to have supplemental flood insurance, which can be obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program (https://www.floodsmart.gov/faqs).
Flooding can stem from several causes, ranging from sudden storms to melting from heavy snowfall, all of which can be devastating.
Whether it’s a body of water overflowing its banks or a sudden surge from a dam break, the damage can be heavy and costly.
On average, a residential flood claim can be close to $30,000 and that’s just covering the immediate aftermath and not the potential long term effects such as mold buildup.
Some homes are considered high risk because they are located in flood zones, but even for those homes flood damage will not be covered by a standard homeowner’s policy.
For homes that aren’t considered high risk having flood damage covered is more unlikely
In most cases, if your home is considered high risk and you have a mortgage, you will be required to purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
Premiums for this type of policy are based on a variety of factors including the age of your home, the number of floors, the location of contents and the severity of flood risk.
Gradual vs. Sudden Damage
As stated above, only certain types of water damage will be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Damage is generally divided into two basic categories: gradual and sudden.
Gradual damage is usually not covered as it is considered the result of improper maintenance by the homeowner.
Sudden damage, such as that caused by a burst pipe or a sewer backup, maybe covered provided that it only affects your home.
Unfortunately, most gradual damage is not visible to the naked eye, so you likely won’t realize it’s an issue until a problem occurs.
Your house could look perfectly sound on the surface, but beneath those walls, ceilings, and floors there could be issues that may worsen over time if they aren’t adequately addressed.
Common causes of gradual damage include leaking faucets or pipes, seepage from the foundation, deterioration of roof tiles, deteriorating electrical wiring and mold or rot.
While this type of water damage usually isn’t covered, there may be some exceptions.
If, for instance, mold results directly from a covered loss then you may also be covered for mold remediation, but this will depend on your particular insurance company as rules can vary from one company to another.
In order to cover damage to your home and belongings caused by floods or rising water, you’ll need to have separate flood insurance.
Most insurance companies will offer flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). When you consider that just one inch of water in your home can cause $25,000 or more in damage, you can see why it is so important to have flood coverage.
The NFIP offers two types of flood coverage: Building Property and Personal Property or Contents.
One covers the actual structure and the other helps to cover everything inside your home. The general recommendation is to purchase both types of coverage to insure against all potential damage.
Even with this comprehensive coverage, however, there are still some types of flood-related damage that won’t be covered, including:
- Damage caused by mildew, mold or moisture that could have been avoided with proper maintenance by the homeowner.
- Precious metals, currency and valuable papers like bonds and stock certificates.
- Property and belongings outside of the home, such as trees, swimming pools, and fences.
- Living expenses for temporary housing.
There is little doubt that flood damage can be devastating and the last thing you want to be doing in the immediate aftermath of a flood is worrying about whether you have the funds to help repair your home.
Talking to your insurance agent about what coverage you qualify for and making sure you’re covered ahead of time can take a lot of the burden off of you if disaster should strike.
If you do wind up dealing with water damage caused by flooding, it’s important to remember that you may have options for receiving help. Your insurance agent can be a valuable resource, helping you to determine exactly what kind of coverage you have and what kind of resources are available to you.
When it comes down to dealing with mold and mildew caused by flooding, consulting a mold remediation specialist can also be helpful.
These are professionals who are trained to deal with potentially hazardous mold and who are up to date on all of the latest rules and regulations so they can advise you about what steps to take.
Dealing With Insurance Claims
If you do have insurance, getting the most out of your claim can be a tricky prospect, especially in the immediate aftermath of a flood when you’ll be under a lot of stress. You can help yourself when it comes to filing your claim by keeping a few basic steps in mind:
- Call A Disaster Relief Company First – While your immediate inclination may be to call the insurance company, you’ll be much better off if you contact a disaster relief company first. Not only do they know what to do to repair the damage, but they also know how to deal with insurance companies and can be an important advocate, helping to properly document damage and negotiate with your insurance company.
- Move Quickly To Begin The Restoration Process – Because insurance companies will want complete, detailed proof of damage, the sooner you start the process, the better off you’ll be. Plus you’ll want to make immediate repairs, like closing holes in the roof or sealing off broken windows, as quickly as possible to avoid further damage.
- Gather Evidence – when it comes to making insurance claims, the evidence is key. The better your evidence, the higher the likelihood of a positive outcome on your claim. Your disaster relief company can help you to get the pictures and other evidence you need to place your claim.
- Stand Up For Yourself– Remember, your insurance company is looking out for their own best interests and will want to pay out as little as possible, so it’s up to you to make sure that you get the most out of your claim. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Again, your disaster relief company can be a good advocate, helping to speak up on your behalf and providing photos and other evidence to prove your claim.
- Be Patient – While your focus after a flood or other disaster may be returning back to normal as quickly as possible, unfortunately, the insurance industry doesn’t usually work quickly. Claims can take days or even weeks to be completely processed so you need to be patient and wait it out.
Stay One Step Ahead of Disaster
You can help yourself by being prepared ahead of time. Know the disaster relief companies in your area so you’ll know who to call when disaster strikes.
Review your insurance policy regularly to make sure you know exactly what coverage you’ve got. Finally, be sure to keep good records of all of your belongings and when they were purchased as this can help to expedite your insurance claim.
Your insurance may not cover flood damage but that doesn’t mean you’re on your own.
By taking the right steps now you can maintain peace of mind, whether you’re covered by insurance or not.
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