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Broken pipes, overflowing bathtubs, broken toilets, burst water mains, damaged washing machine hoses and flash floods. There are so many ways that water can cause expensive damage to your home. When the damage happens, your first step is to determine whether you have a water damage insurance claim or a flood claim. Although they sound similar, water damage and flood damage are very different insurance terms. Their definitions do not overlap. Flood damage is not considered a form of water damage. Here we just touch upon the differences between flood damage and water damage,

Flood Damage

Your standard homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover flood damage at all. Flood is always listed an exclusion, which is why a separate flood insurance policy exists. 

You may be surprised that your definition of a flood and your insurance company's definition may be very different.

The definition of a flood from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is:

  • A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres and 2 or more properties of normally dry land or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder's property) from:
    • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
    • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
    • Mudflow; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

If the water causing damage in your home is coming from any of these sources, you are probably dealing with flood damage. You will need to file a flood damage insurance claim with your flood insurance company. Only property owners with flood insurance through NFIP can file flood damage insurance claims. 

With flood damage, the water comes from a natural source and two or more properties are involved. If you and your neighbors are all having water issues due to heavy rains and/or rising waters, then you are likely dealing with a flood insurance claim rather than a water damage insurance claim. 

Woman holding bucket with roof leaking water

Water Damage

Though homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, they do provide for many types of water damage to your property. Water damage is considered to occur when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground. That is quite the opposite of flood damage where the water comes from the ground.

Here are some examples of water damage:

  • Spontaneous exploding appliances like your water heater.
  • Broken pipes or hoses from your washing machine or ice maker.
  • Burst pipes as a result of freezing (unless the pipes freeze from your own negligence).
  • Heavy rain soaks the roof allowing water to drop through your attic or ceiling.

Keep in my mind that the insurance company may not pay, however, if you were found out to be negligent. For example, if you knew about the roof before the heavy rain and you didn't bother to fix it. If a roof leak or a pipe break results from age and deterioration, insurance pays for the damage to your house contents, but won't repair the roof or pipe. 

If the water damage is sudden and accidental, there is a good chance that you will be covered by most home insurance policies. 

Related Blog Posts

Wear and Tear is Not Covered Under Your Homeowners Insurance
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Ice Dam Damage and Removal?
12 Perils Your Home Insurance Probably Doesn't Cover?
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover That Fallen Tree?


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Dutchess County NY residents, at Pepe Insurance Agency, we work with you to make sure you have the coverage you need, while delivering it at the best price. Give us a call at (845) 724-3031 or fill out our Contact Us form to get in touch with an agent. We want to make sure you meet your insurance goals and protect what is most important to you!

Written by Bill Pepe



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