House with flood issues.

Understanding the Difference Between Water and Flood Damage

You come home from work to find your basement full of water. Is it flood damage or water damage? While the question may seem silly, it is no laughing matter to insurance companies, nor to those with denied insurance claims. Insurance companies most often carve out flood damage from homeowner’s insurance policies, although water damage is covered. In most circumstances, protection from flood damage requires a separate flood insurance policy. When considering insurance policies and protections, or when making a claim for damage caused by water (water or flood damage), it’s essential to understand the difference between water and flood damage. Although definitions of flood and water damage may vary from policy to policy, there are some general concepts around flood damage in insurance law that apply.

Flood damage is generally defined as damage caused by rising water, backed up drains, or broken water mains. Here, flood damage often requires multiple properties to be affected. For example, if sewers cannot handle the runoff from heavy rains, then streets may flood. If the heavy rain continues, that water may continue to rise higher and higher. If you’re unfortunate enough to own a home that fills up with water due to the rising water from the street, you likely have flood damage rather than water damage. Here, a homeowner’s insurance policy would be unlikely to cover the damage.

Conversely, consider the above scenario of a flooding street due to heavy rains and backed up sewers. However, in this scenario your house is on top of a hill and the water doesn’t reach your home. Nonetheless, you realize that your basement is still full of water. Upon investigation, you discover that a major leak in the roof has caused the basement to have several inches of standing water. Is this flood damage or water damage? Here, the outcome is more ambiguous, but because the damage is due to a defective roof, the damage is likely water damage and thus would be covered under your homeowner’s policy.

However, things get difficult when the leaking roof scenario occurs, but the basement fills with water because a drain in the basement is blocked. Here, an insurance company would likely argue that this damage is flood damage due to the blocked drain, and thus not covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Insurers’ profits are dependent on their ability to deny claims – having an experienced insurance claims lawyer in your corner can save both time and money. 

Florida Water and Flood Damage Insurance Claims Lawyer

At the Law Office of William J. Roe, we have aided Florida residents in resolving denied insurance claims, particularly relating to flood damage and water damage. If you’ve had an insurance claim denied or believe that you have been treated unfairly by your insurer, please contact our offices today for a free consultation. The sooner we hear from you, the sooner we can help.