Winter weather is very hard on your home and it can lead to storm-related damage and flooding. If you’re relying on your homeowner’s insurance to cover flood damage, you need to read this.
What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?
Homeowner’s insurance covers damage from any sudden, unexpected event listed in your policy. However, homeowner’s and renter’s policies don’t cover flooding from melting snow when it saturates the ground and leaks into your home.
Insurers may cover damage caused cover water leaking in from above if you’ve properly maintained your home, but remember household insurance only covers sudden, unexpected events, not negligence.
If it’s the first time water’s leaked into your home from an ice dam or snow melting, you’re probably covered. Nonetheless, you’ll need to do what it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Preventing ice dams could include improving insulation, sealing air gaps, and providing additional ventilation. Otherwise, your insurer will either deny your claim or cancel your policy if you try to make another claim.
Rapidly melting snow or heavy rainfall can also lead to a flash flood, the most dangerous form of flooding. It combines the destructive damaging power of water with speed and unpredictability.
Large amounts of water can overfill creeks and rivers and overflow normally dry areas. The worst part is that you have little or no warning to prevent damage since they happen so quickly.
Flash floods occur all throughout the U.S. and homes in densely populated areas are most vulnerable. Manmade structures increase runoff and reduce the area of useable space for water absorption. When this occurs, excess water overwhelms storm drains and can back up into low-lying areas such as your basement.
If you live near a river, creek, mountains, canyons, or steep hills, you’re also at high risk of a flash flood. Areas with rocky or clay-laden soil are also very vulnerable since water can’t infiltrate the soil.
Homes near water can also suffer damage when warm rain or melting snow dislodges thick ice, which then forms an ice jam. When it releases, huge chunks of ice can push onto the shore and damage nearby structures.
Since homeowner’s and renter’s insurance don’t cover flood waters and floods can occur anywhere and at any time, having a flood insurance policy in place is a good idea. About 20 percent of all flood claims originate from homes in low to moderate risk regions. If you live in a high-risk zone, it’s a must-have.
Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program provides limited coverage for covered perils such as water inundation from a flash flood or winter snow melt. However, you may need additional coverage if their policy limits don’t properly protect your home and belongings.
What Does A NFIP Policy Cover?
Federal flood insurance protection has a coverage limit of $250,000 per building and $100,000 for contents. It covers the essential systems in your home, structural items, appliances, flooring and window treatments, built-ins, and personal property. It also covers a detached garage up to 10 percent of your policy property limit.
However, a flood policy will not cover damage caused by earth movement, even if the flood caused it. Your policy also includes limitations on expensive items such as jewelry, fine art, computer hardware and software, sporting goods, and more. Sewer backups are only covered if they are a direct result of the flood. Personal property in your basement, walk out, or crawl space may not qualify for reimbursement either.
Update your home inventory and talk to your insurance agent. They’ll review your existing policy and align it with flood insurance coverage so you’re well-protected.