What Is The Legal Distinction Between Flood Damage And Water Damage?

If it seems like every time you turn on the television there is some natural disaster that is demolishing communities, it isn’t just you. Whether it is global warming or just that news is so much more readily available to cover nature’s wrath makes no difference the victims. If your house is experiencing water issues, then it might be taking a huge financial toll on your budget. The difference between whether your homeowners’ or premises insurance will cover it or not depends on the definitions of flood versus water damage. Knowing the difference may or may not save you from huge clean-up and replacement costs.

If you have Houston flood damage homeowners’ insurance, then it is important to know when you have experienced flood or water damage before you file a claim. There are things that will be covered and others that won’t. Typically, flood insurance isn’t covered under homeowners’ insurance unless you took out a special rider. If you file the wrong way, that can leave you financially out of luck. The difference between a water damage and a flood claim is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have defined a “flood” as a “temporary or partial condition of inundation of water over more than two acres or more and spanning two individual properties or more which normally would be dry land.” There are specific things that can cause flood damage, including:

  • Mudflow
  • Rapid or uncommon water runoff or accumulation of surface water regardless of source
  • Overflow of a tide or inland water region
  • A collapse of land that is along the shoreline or any similar water entity where there is erosion which is caused by currents or waves that exceed levels that are cyclical and flood the surrounding area as described above

The main difference between the definition of a flood versus water damage is that a flood is an unnatural occurrence – and a rapid one as well. It doesn’t consist of water sitting for a long time or damage being caused because water flow was either not detected or addressed in a timely manner. If you are going to claim that you have flood damage, then it can’t result from water resting in your basement because your sump pump failed or because you had a pipe break; that does not meet the definition of flooding as outlined by the federal government. However, if there has been a flood in your neighborhood and more than two properties find themselves with flooded basements that were not anticipated and could not have been planned for, then you might be able to make a case for “flood damage.”

If you live near a region that is prone to flooding, like next to the shoreline or in a low-lying area, homeowners’ insurance does not offer flood coverage. The only way to get the addition of flood insurance is through the National Flood Insurance Program, through whom you would have to file a flood insurance claim. If you don’t currently have flood insurance and are in a risky area, then you are playing with fire – no pun intended. The best way to ensure that you are covered should your home, second home, or business flood is to be protected by the National Flood Insurance Program and take out an individual policy.

There are times when, if you live in a high-risk area, your mortgage company might make it mandatory for you to carry flood insurance – not just to protect you as a homeowner, but to protect their investment. To obtain a mortgage, many lenders will require that you have flood insurance so that you will be covered in a major catastrophe.

If you have a water issue in your home and there are no problems with any of the surrounding homes, then it is likely just a water issue. Some things might be covered by your homeowners’ insurance, but flooding is not one of them. Knowing what is covered, and which agency to contact to take out insurance coverage, is an important step to keeping yourself protected in case you experience either one of them. Water damage of any kind can be very expensive – and potentially disastrous if you aren’t insured for it.