In the wake of the terrible damage throughout the eastern third of the US caused by hurricane Sandy, it is necessary to stress the need for flood insurance for homeowners. While it is true that such a massive storm is rare, occurring perhaps once in a lifetime, the catastrophic damage to literally millions of homeowners begs the question, “Is your home protected from flooding?”

The simple answer to this question is “NO!” Standard homeowner’s insurance does not protect the homeowner from this type of flooding, deemed “Acts of God.”

Homeowners’ insurance does not cover flooding

For anyone who has ever had the misfortune to experience a flooded basement, they know the damage caused by flooding can be extensive, incredibly inconvenient, and expensive to repair. It is not an experience any homeowner would wish to repeat.

Flooding can take place due to a variety of causes, such as: spring run-off, melting snow, an over flowing river, lake or stream, excessive groundwater build-up, or even a swimming pool that overflows. Whether aided by wind, rain, or heavy snowfall, or by an Act of God, damage to your home caused by flooding is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance; regardless of how comprehensive you thought your policy to be.

A comprehensive homeowner policy will however cover water damage to your home when the cause is “sudden and accidental.” Sudden and accidental water damage will include damage caused by sudden failure of a heating or air conditioning system, an overflowing washing machine, a blocked toilet, accidental sprinkler going off, or a burst water pipe. Damage caused by freezing or sewer back-up will likely not be covered, though you may be able to purchase protection from these with a rider to your policy.

How to protect your home from water damage

Here are some tips on how can you prevent or limit water damage to your home:

  • If the area in which you live is susceptible to sewer back-up, make sure your home has a back-flow valve and plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connectors installed.
  • Install a sump pump, if necessary. (Only in High Water Table Areas)
  • Test your sump pump for proper function.
  • Install a battery back-up or buy a small gas generator for your sump pump, in case of electrical failure.
  • If your basement is unfinished, store items in plastic containers or on shelving at least 12″ above the floor.
  • Keep all window wells clear of leaves and debris and periodically checking your foundation for signs of cracks.
  • Keep rain gutters, eaves, and downspouts clear of debris.
  • Make sure water flow (grading) is directed away from the foundation of your home.
  • During winter, keep snow away from the foundation to reduce surface water during sudden spring thaws and winter rains.
  • Areas around ground level windows and window wells should be cleared of snow regularly.
  • Seal all foundation cracks around the exterior perimeter of the home.

The condition of your home’s foundation, and your entire home, is a housekeeping or maintenance issue. It is not an insurance issue. If the land around your house slopes in towards your foundation the chance of ground water building up is greater. It is always a good idea to check with your insurance broker to confirm what your homeowner policy covers.

If you are worried about the possibility of your home flooding for any of the reasons above, you should invest in a comprehensive home inspection to help determine your risk. Contact us today for a FREE estimateof the cost of inspecting your home by a Certified Home Inspector.


Note: Insurance information provided by Active Insurance & Financial Group Inc.