Your current homeowner's insurance policy may not include flooding damage, even if it seems to. Many homeowner's insurance policies include water damage, but not flooding. Flooding can be an additional rider, but you need to know to add it before you end up with a claim.
Why Doesn't Insurance Come With Flooding Insurance?
Flooding is a calculated risk. There are "flood zones" that determine how likely it is for your home to be flooded. In areas of high flood risk, flooding is a separate insurance policy. This is because it cannot be affordably covered inside of the confines of a traditional insurance policy.
In areas where flooding is not a significant risk (non-coastal areas or areas high above the water table), flooding is usually included.
What's the Difference Between Flooding and Water Damage?
You need to be careful when reviewing your policy, as your policy may cover water damage but not flooding damage. Water damage includes issues with your pipes or flooding due to accidental diversion of water into your home. As an example, if a neighbor's above-ground pool caused damage to your property, that would be water damage, not flooding damage. However, if a neighbor's rain water runoff damaged your home during a storm, it might be considered flooding.
When making a claim, it's important to be clear. If you indicate that a storm or adverse weather caused your water damage, it's possible that the claim will be declined--even if you experienced water damage. For instance, you might tell them that your basement was "flooded" even though it was a pipe issue and not a rain issue.
How Do You Get Flood Insurance?
Luckily, it's easy to get flood insurance. You just need to ask your insurance company whether you have flood insurance and if you can add it on. Flood damage is very extensive and costly. Even a small flood can cost tens of thousands of dollars in structural damage. If there's any risk your home could be flooded, it's a wise type of coverage to have.
If you end up with flood damage without flood insurance, it is possible that you could get government assistance. However, there are usually long waiting lists for this type of assistance.
You can get started now by reviewing your home insurance policy for flood coverage. If you aren't covered for floods, you can call your insurance company to get the coverage added now before you need to initiate a claim.