In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many homeowners in our area have contacted Wheeler, DiUlio, & Barnabei with one question: “If a storm like that ever comes our way, am I protected?”
It’s very important that you know the difference between hurricane and flood damage before being hit by a storm like the ones that devastated Texas and Florida. Confusing the two may prove to be a costly mistake that results in the loss of your home.
What Is Hurricane Damage?
Damage to your home can occur in hundreds of ways. And determining the cause of that damage is possibly the MOST important part of presenting your claim to your insurance company.
Let me use an over-simplified example. A pipe bursts in your home and fills your basement with five feet of water. You may call your insurance company and say something like “Help, my basement flooded and I need coverage.” Well unfortunately “flooding” isn’t covered but a burst water pipe is. Knowing these distinctions is important so first and foremost, if you have a question, give us a call and we can help.
Damages from hurricanes can occur lot of ways. You can have your roof torn off and rainwater come in. You could have a storm surge and the ocean waters flood your home. A tree could fall on your home and break your roof and walls. The list goes on.
Some of these are covered by your homeowners insurance, some are not.
For example, the rain coming through your roof would be covered, but the flood waters from the outside entering in would not. For your reference, here is the easiest way to think of it. If water came over the ground and into your home, your homeowners insurance probably doesn’t cover it. If water came in before touching the ground, your homeowners insurance probably covers it. Again, how the claim is presented is the most important part of your insurance claim.
One wrong word can mean the insurance company will deny your claim. So before anything, give us a call to make sure you are presenting your claim the right way.
What Is Flood Damage?
First of all, I would like to clarify that homeowners insurance providers do not cover flood damage. You need to purchase a separate policy through a flood insurer to have that specific coverage.
According to most flood insurance companies, flood damage is much more limited than you may think. Oftentimes, your flood insurance provider will define flood damage as “damage caused to property directly touched by flood water.”
You may think this is a logical definition, but let me explain what your flood insurer is really getting at. Imagine you own a two-story home and your area is hit by a large storm that causes severe flooding. The first floor of your home is left under 3 feet of water, causing such serious damage that your home needs to be demolished.
Since nothing above 3 feet was touched by water, your flood insurer will try to insist that they do not owe you any reimbursement to rebuild the entire second floor of your home. And because the damage relates to flooding, your homeowners carrier may not cover it either. So you are left without the money to rebuild your home. Ludicrous, right?
We agree, and have settled cases in the past for clients who have fought their flood insurers over this very issue.
I cannot stress enough the importance of fully understanding your insurance policies before disaster strikes. But I understand that your policy is extremely complex and hard for a lot of people to understand, even if you read every line. Let us review your policies at no cost to you and help make sure you’re protected. The time to act is now.