Here in Wisconsin, there are many potential flood risks, from river and Great Lakes coastal flooding to dam breaks and snow melt. In addition to weather, flood-control failure, and topographic hazards, homeowners also face water-loss risks within their own homes. Unfortunately, only some of them are covered by standard homeowners insurance. Continue reading to find out which ones are excluded and why you might benefit from additional flood and water damage protection.
What’s In Your Homeowners Insurance?
It is important that you know the details of your homeowners coverage, including what is and is not in it. A typical homeowners policy might provide some limited coverage for water damages, although there will be restrictions based on the cause of the damage. Water overflow and discharge are often covered so long as the circumstances of the loss meet guidelines outlined in the policyholder agreement.
A good rule of thumb is that a covered water-related loss should be the result of a sudden and accidental event. Insurers generally deny claims for water damages that could have been prevented through better home maintenance. A pipe that has been leaking for several weeks or months is not ‘sudden’ or ‘accidental.’ A frozen pipe that bursts despite preventative efforts to insulate it, however, is more likely to be covered under your policy.
Sewer and Water Backup
As a homeowner, you are responsible for the maintenance of the drainage lines that run from inside your home to the main line service by your local municipality. If something causes a blockage in one of those lines, it could interfere with proper drainage of wastes from your home. Likewise, overburdened sewer lines that become flooded after a heavy rain may cause raw sewage to backup into your home through those same drainage lines. While sewer and water backup are not typically covered under homeowners insurance, you can add this coverage to your policy for a small cost in the form of an endorsement.
Ask any flood victim and they will tell you, the fallout from water damage is horrific. The average residential flood insurance claim topped $46,000 between 2011 and 2015. Homeowners insurance does not cover it. The only way to get protection against flooding is with separate coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. Those who experience flooding without insurance may find themselves in dire straits.
The NFIP reports that just 2 inches of flood water can cause more than $20,000 in damages to a standard-sized home. Increase it to 6 inches and the costs nearly double. Contrary to popular belief, federal assistance is not always available after a flood. Even if it is – usually when you live in an area that has been declared a disaster – any money you receive is usually given in the form of a loan that must be paid back with interest.
Flood insurance from the NFIP is designed to repair your home, clean up after the flood, and replace your damaged belongings (If you are a renter, you can purchase contents-only flood insurance for your personal belongings.). If you do not have flood insurance, an agent here at Carrigan Insurance can help you obtain coverage. We can answer your questions and explain the details of flood insurance, including:
- The 30-day waiting period, if applicable
- The FEMA Flood Maps and how they affect your premiums
- The need for flood insurance even if you have no prior history of flooding
Do you have insurance for flooding and water backups?