The ‘storm’ did pass, as they said it would…….The winds did stop raging and the water levels did subside! Now, you even ‘get’ what they mean by ‘the calm after a storm! ’
One problem though….
- From where you stand, there is definitely NO semblance of ‘a calm’ in your fairly new home…..
- Outside maybe, but no calm inside your home!
As far as you are concerned, you should still be enjoying your latest major investment, not wading ‘ankle deep’ in water that somehow had the audacity to enter your home uninvited! You convince yourself that all is not lost. Surely, the insurance policy will ‘cover’ the damages!
- Why wouldn’t they?
- After all, you had paid all of your premiums and on time too!
I’ll just call them, you think…….. So you do!
- Errm, STOP right there! Question for you!
- Which one????
- You call them anyway!
- The Homeowner’s Insurance Company that is!
As you unrelentingly ‘spill your guts’ about all the damages you that incurred as a result of the storm/flooding, things seem to be going relatively well until its your turn to speak…..
- You: “Seriously?”
- You: But, I thought it was covered!” and
- You again: “So, what have I been paying for all this while then?”
The Lesson? Don’t let that be you!!!!
The Fact of the Matter
Before you even start thinking about how you are going to use insurance money to replace your water-logged carpet and drenched sub-floor with the flooring of your dreams, you might want to figure out how ‘the drenching’ occurred in the first place, because while your standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically pays for several other water damage scenarios, it does not pay for ‘flood’ related damages to your home or property!
- Flood insurance pays for those! Specifically, flood insurance covers incidents that meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s definition of the term Flood.
So, what is a Flood?
Let’s take a look shall we?
According to FEMA, the term ‘flood’ is defined as:
- A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
- Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
- Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
- Mudflow; or
- Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
Insurance companies may or may not be required by state law to clearly inform policyholders that their policy does not cover flood losses. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Allstate for example, uses the following ‘language’ to communicate their policy’s relevance to flood damage:
- “Flood damage is not covered, regardless of how caused, when flood is the peril that causes the loss. Flood water includes but is not limited to, storm surge, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, whether driven by wind or not.”
What you need to know
At bare minimum, you need to know that your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover any damage that is caused by ‘floods’, as defined by FEMA. That’s what Flood Insurance is for!
Then, what use is Homeowner’s Insurance relative to water damage?
In most states, standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover damages that result from a myriad of other avenues such as:
- Wind Damage – If a tornado or hurricane should blow the roof off your home, or blow out a window such that rainwater gains access to the interior of your home, such damage is generally covered by homeowner’s insurance. Please note that there are a few states where wind damage is not covered under standard homeowner’s policies.
- Broken Pipes or Other Plumbing Problems – Water damage resulting from broken plumbing is typically covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies.
- Clogged Air Conditioner (AC) Condensation Drain Lines – If your air conditioner happens to be located in the attic of your home, and the condensation drain line becomes clogged, it can potentially overflow thereby causing water damage to your home. Such damage is typically covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
- Water Damage resulting from Firefighting Efforts – The fire portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover not only the fire damage but also any damage caused by water and/or chemicals used to extinguish the fire.
- Appliance Malfunctions – Water damage caused by malfunctioning appliances is typically covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
- Clogged Plumbing – Water damage resulting from clogged plumbing and back-ups are also usually covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
What’s NOT Covered?
Homeowner’s Insurance will not cover routine maintenance or problems that are believed to be the result of a lack of maintenance. For instance, if that roof leak was caused because your previously twenty-year old shingles are now forty years old, your insurance company may deny your claim, saying that you should have inspected the roof and replaced the old shingles. Or, let’s say your toddler inadvertently broke the window that subsequently created and entry for rainwater, then most likely, you are out of luck because the actions of your two year old are not a ‘covered peril.’
Water Damage Mélange
With major storms like hurricanes, it is possible that your home might become inflicted with a mélange of water damage:
- Damage from flooding (as defined by FEMA); and
- Damage from rainwater that leaked into your home through your roof.
In such an instance, flood insurance will generally pay to replace things from floor level to four feet up (if the level of floodwater was less than four feet from the ground). Homeowner’s insurance on the other hand will typically pay for things above ‘that’ line. In the instance that you do not have flood insurance coverage, an attorney may be able to argue that some of the damage below the four foot line would have happened whether or not the home flooded. Nevertheless on the initial adjustment, insurance companies rarely pay for anything that could be considered flood damage.
At Triangle Legacy, we believe that knowledge is power and transparency is key, so hopefully you now have some insight into what may or may not be covered and by whom! Our team is well equipped to efficiently handle whatever water intrusion incidents you may be faced with.
As licensed contractors, we do not only remediate the damage caused by water intrusion into your home or business, but we also boast expertise in restoring your property to its pre-loss condition. Needless to say, we are well equipped to collaborate with insurance companies!
For all your flood and water damage restoration needs, call us at (301) 523-9419.
We currently serve cities within a 30 mile radius of Washington DC, including the DC Metropolitan and Northern Virginia Areas.
FEMA Definition: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program/definitions#F