When it rains, it might flood. In Harris County, we know just how devastating those occurrences can be. When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, two feet of rain fell in Houston in the first 24 hours of the storm. An estimated 70% of Harris County was covered by 18 inches of flood water. The combined city and county received over $130 million in federal aid for cleanup and repairs. Both flood insurance and homeowners insurance might help you pay for your recovery from water damage, and here’s how it works.
The Difference Between Flood and Homeowners Insurance
Flood insurance is a special type of property insurance that is separate from homeowners policies. Most home insurance does not cover damage from weather-related flooding. Therefore, in cases of flash flooding, storm surge or related events, you’ll probably need to have flood insurance in order to make a claim when water damages your house.
The unfortunate fact is that, before Harvey, over 80% of homeowners affected by Harvey did not have flood insurance. Nearly 70% of the flood insurance claims that occurred came from areas that were outside the most-high-risk flood zones. Therefore, even if you haven’t had a flood before, then insurance is something you should think about getting.
But, you might wonder if, following heavy rains, your flood policy or your homeowners policy will pay for the necessary repairs. It’s a bit of a complicated situation to try to manage.
When Each Policy Will Pay
Usually, for a flood to occur, it has to rain. Rain damage is covered by insurance in different ways, depending on how it affects your home. Some rain damage will have coverage under your standard homeowners policy. Other damage will have coverage under flood insurance.
- If heavy rains result during a later summer storm. During the storm, a tree might fall onto your home, damaging the roof, attic, and letting in water. In these cases, your regular homeowners insurance will pay for your cleanup and losses. The water damage resulted less from the rain itself than from a falling tree.
- If water gets into the home through a previously-damaged or neglected roof, your policy might not pay. That’s because you are supposed to prevent these events through regular roof maintenance.
- Should the rain lead to a flash flood or river overflow, and that water rises into your home, then that’s likely a job for flood insurance. Keep in mind, policies will have their limits, including when they will cover damage to basements and outdoor items.
When water damage occurs following heavy rains, speak to your homeowners insurer. They can help you determine if you can file a claim under your homeowners or flood insurance.