If you have just experienced a flood or water damage to your home, there can be a lot of confusion about property damage claims when it comes to home owners insurance. Questions from how to file, what types of water damage are covered under standard home owners insurance policies, if mold which is a secondary form of damage following water damage is covered, as well as what to do if water damage does happen to your property.
No regular home owners insurance policy cover water damage from a flood. You need separate insurance to cover flood damage, which is called a flood rider. Most flood riders are through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but insurance companies such as GEICO will help you file and mange your flood rider policy. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. It should be noted not all communities participate with NFIP, in which case you will have to seek out a non NFIP policy.
A flood rider will cover not only your properties physical structures but also your personal property. Note that flood damage and water damage are two separate things, and each has specific conditions when it comes to property insurance. Flood insurance when combined with a good standard home owners insurance policy will generally cover most forms of water damage that your property can experience, except due to home owner negligence.
One type of water damage that may be covered under homeowners insurance is known as sudden water damage, such as from a heavy storm (excpet for floods which although sudden are not covered), that opens a hole in your roof or siding. The general rule is that if the water came down, it will be covered, versus water that comes up from the ground. This means water damage to your roof or water damage from rain coming through a broken window that was caused by strong storm winds would generally be covered. Water damage that comes from falling rain and strong winds is generally covered, however water damage from a flood from heavy rains would not be covered,even though the water did “come down” it landed on the ground then came into your home, in which case you would need flood insurance. Accidental sudden discharges of water are usually covered under your homeowners insurance, such as your toilet over running or a washer machine malfunction. It should be noted that every insurance company will have slightly different coverages for sudden water damage, so if you suspect at some point you may face water damage, that you go over your home owners insurance policy ahead of time to ensure you are covered for the risks that you think could apply to you.
Here we will now talk about water damage that no insurance policy will cover. If you have a pipe in the wall that leaks slowly over time, it likely wont be covered, In fact any leaking pipe is considered a maintenance issue and not covered under any policy on the market. Nor would water damage that occurs from not keeping your house maintained and repaired. Mold damage due to gradual water damage will generally not be covered either, and this tends to fall into the negligence clause.
If you do suffer water damage, it is vital to contact your insurance company right away to start the home owners insurance claims process. You should also document any damage that you can with photographs or videos. A flood and water damage restoration company can also assist you not only with the flood and water damage, but also the insurance claims process and advocate for you to ensure you get the proper claims reward owed to you.