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.
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 been flooded. If, instead, rain flows through a leaky roof or a hail-shattered window, that counts as water damage. Flood insurance is the only policy that protects against rain-related flood damage; your homeowners insurance exempts the cost of flooding from coverage. Most homeowners policies protect against water damage, but flood insurance does not.
If you own a home or a condo, you can buy flood coverage for your house, 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 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.
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. It protects damaged art, but the payments are capped. Flood insurance also pays for debris removal.
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, your insurer won't replace it. Decks, patios, fences and swimming pools aren't covered either. 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.
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