Understanding Flood and Hurricane Insurance, and Knowing Why You Need It
When your homeowner’s insurance plan states that it covers “water damage,” you assume that means water damage by any number of sources, such as a broken washing machine, a burst pipe, a leaking roof, or a sudden flood. However, when you go to file a claim for water damages caused by this spring’s flash flood – or when you try to repair your home after torrential rains ripped the siding off – you find that you are out of luck. Your insurance company clarifies that they “only cover water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental.”
Okay, you think, isn’t a flood or hurricane sudden or accidental?
Sure it is, as no one can predict what this year’s storms will bring; however, standard homeowner policies do not cover any type of flood, hurricane, or weather damage. In order to be protected against storm-related water damage, you must have flood insurance on top of your traditional homeowner’s insurance.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
According to Floodsmart.gov, if you live near a major water source (as most Floridians do), or if you live in an area prone to floods and hurricanes (again, as most Floridians do), then it is always a good idea to have a flood insurance policy, and here’s why:
- Flood insurance covers up to $250,000 worth of damage to the physical structure of your home, on a replacement cost basis (meaning, it will pay whatever it takes to rebuild). Damage to the physical structure may include damage to: the foundation; the plumbing and electrical systems; central heating and air systems; attached bookcases; cabinets and paneling; and a detached garage. Unfortunately, flood insurance typically does not cover damage to other detached structures; they require their own policy.
- Flood insurance also covers up to $100,000 for damages to your personal contents, including: clothing; furniture; electronics; curtains and window treatments; select portable appliances; freezers and refrigerators and the foods within them; and select valuables, such as artwork, jewelry, etc. If you file a claim for personal contents, you can expect to receive a cash payout for what the item was worth when it was damaged (meaning, replacement cost minus depreciation).
What is Not Covered By Your Flood Insurance Policy
Like all insurance plans, however, insurance companies do put a limit on what and how much they are willing to cover with their flood insurance plans. Here is a list of things not typically covered by a flood insurance policy:
- Water Damage from an Inside Source: Flood insurance will only cover damage caused by outside sources meaning that if a pipe bursts and causes water damage, or if your washer machine goes on the fritz, flood insurance will do nothing to repair the ensuing water damage. However, your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover these types of damages, so speak with your provider should water damage from an inside source occur.
- Water Damage by Pool and Landscaping: If something were to go wrong with your pool – such as if it were to crack and flood your basement, or overfill and flood your main level – neither your flood insurance policy nor your homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover the damage. You must have additional coverage specifically for pools. Furthermore, if damage were to occur to your flowerbeds, artfully-scaped bushes, or other landscaping, flood damage will not cover it.
- Small Floods: Unfortunately, in order for your flood insurance policy to kick in, your home must have been subject to a serious flood—meaning, more than two acres or at least one other property had to have been affected.
- Preventable Mildew or Mold Damage: Did your home amass mold or mildew after that last flood? If there was a way to have prevented such damage, your flood insurance policy will not cover it.
- Living Expenses: When major floods occur, many homeowners find themselves living out of hotels, or having to rent an apartment for the duration of time in which their home is being repaired. Unfortunately, your flood insurance policy will not cover any living expenses—rent, food, or otherwise—accrued while your property is being fixed. Furthermore, if you run an at home business, flood insurance will not cover any financial losses that resulted in business interruption.
- Paper Documents: If you have a lot of money, precious metals, or important documentation just lying around your home, you should invest in a waterproof and fireproof safe, as flood insurance will not cover the destruction of such items.
- Basements: Did you turn your basement into a cool rec room for the kids, or transform it into a quiet retreat for guests? If you have made any improvements to your basement living space, or if a majority of your living space is below elevation, flood insurance will not cover any damages or losses within that space.
- Any Damage that Occurs within 30 Days of Purchasing the Policy: If you purchased your flood insurance coverage 28 days ago, and a flood happens tomorrow, you will not be covered for any damages. Flood insurance policies take 30 days to take effect, likely because insurance companies do not want masses of people to sign up only when a major storm is on the way. With that in mind, the sooner you purchase your policy, the less likely you are to suffer irrecoverable damages to your home in the next big Florida storm.
Consult an Insurance Claims Lawyer
If you have flood insurance, and if you are having a difficult time recovering damages from the last flood, storm, or hurricane, you may be able to file a false claims suit. Or, if you believe that your insurance company offered a settlement below what your policy covers, you may be entitled to additional compensation.
At The Pendas Law Firm, we help homeowners in the Miami and surrounding areas recover damages rightfully owed to them. Insurance companies can be tricky, and they oftentimes make it difficult for their customers to receive the full amount of benefits owed to them. However with an experienced Miami insurance claims lawyer on your side, you can eliminate the hassle and settle for an amount you rightfully deserve.
To schedule a private consultation with one of our Miami insurance claims lawyers, contact our personal injury firm at 1-888-LPENDAS, or do so online. If you live in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, or Fort Lauderdale, contact one of our personal injury firms near you.