Does Flood Insurance Cover Heavy Rains?

Rain is good clean fun until someone loses a house.

Rain is good clean fun until someone loses a house.

The patter of rain isn't so romantic when the deluge damages your house. Rain can hurt you in many ways -- overflowing rivers, triggering mudslides, pouring through a hole in the roof or collecting on the ground until it flows into your basement. Flood insurance covers most types of rain damage but not all. If, for example, heavy rain causes a nearby river to overflow its banks and damage your home, you would make a claim through your flood insurance. If, however, a storm caused your roof to leak, flood insurance wouldn't pay but your homeowners insurance should.

Floods and Rain

In insurance-speak, flooding only happens when water touches the ground before it enters your house. If rain washes off the street and onto your property, you've experienced flooding. If instead, rain flows through a leaky roof or a hail-shattered window, that counts as water damage. Most homeowners policies protect against water damage, but flood insurance does not. The reverse is also true. Flood insurance covers only flood damage and not water damage. Take note, however, that homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude water damage caused by flooding. Flood insurance is the only policy that protects against rain-related and other flood damage.

Policies

If you own a home or a condo, you can buy flood coverage for the structure, with optional coverage for the contents. If you rent, you can take out a contents-only policy for your unit. The National Flood Insurance Program sets rates based on factors such as the flood risk where you live, the number of floors in your building and how low the first floor is relative to the flood elevation. As with homeowners insurance, the amount of coverage and the size of your deductible affect the cost too.

Coverage

If a torrential rain does flood your house, your flood insurance covers damage to the building, its foundation and the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems. It also insures major kitchen appliances, permanently installed carpet and built-in shelves and cabinets. If you take out contents coverage, that protects clothes, furniture, computers, curtains, the washer and dryer and carpets not covered by the building policy such as area rugs. It also protects damaged art, but caps these payments at $2,500. Flood insurance also pays for debris removal.

Exclusions

Flood insurance doesn't cover all the damage from heavy rain. If a flood destroys the $1,000 in cash you took out of the bank today or your stock certificates, your insurer won't replace them. Decks, patios, fences, swimming pools, septic systems and wells aren't covered either, since they are technically located outside of the insured building. If the flooding causes moisture or mold damage you could have prevented, you're out of luck. Flood insurance also doesn't pay for temporary housing or provide business-interruption coverage. Insurers only offer limited coverage for damage in basements and crawlspaces.

 

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images