When is rain water considered flood water? When it hits the ground. For homeowners, this is an important distinction. Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Separate flood insurance must be purchased. In fact, if you live in a high-risk area you may have been required to get it before your mortgage was approved. What are the differences between flood and homeowners insurance? Here’s what you need to know.

Homeowners insurance and water damage

Homeowners insurance does cover some forms of water damage. If a pipe bursts or an appliance leaks, it will cover this kind of damage up to the limits of the policy. If a tree breaks a hole into your roof and water leaks in from the sky, that’s also covered. But there are things it doesn’t cover (unless your policy says otherwise):

If an appliance leaks or breaks, the cost of replacing or repairing the water damaged unit isn’t covered.
If it is found that you didn’t perform maintenance on the section of the home that broke, you won’t be covered (e.g. known ongoing leaks.)
Water damage from an outside drain backing up through your pipes. Get a backflow preventer installed to stop this.

National Flood Insurance Program

In the 1950s, homeowners insurance did cover the cost of floods, but payouts rose fast. By the 1960s the product was completely unprofitable and insurance companies stopped offering coverage for floods. This left homeowners vulnerable and they appealed to the government for help.

Nearly all flood insurance is issued by the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program, which was established in 1968. This is a $250,000 policy for the home with an optional $100,000 policy for goods. These are the maximum limits for this program. The cost of the program depends on how risky your area for flooding is. The average cost is around $700/year, but in high-risk areas it can be several thousand dollars. This policy covers all forms of natural flooding and is the best way to get coverage. Since 2014, more than $51 billion dollars in claims have been paid out.

There are criticisms of the program. It is currently $24 billion dollars in debt. The original intent was for a community to receive coverage if they participated in flood risk management programs, but thanks to subsidies, grandfather clauses, and lower premiums than the market rate, there has been no disincentive to stop building in flood-prone areas even if flood insurance is required. It has encouraged rebuilding in places that are risky to cover. There have been attempts to remove the grandfather clauses and increase the premiums to make the program solvent, but struggles still continue in Congress.

Nevertheless, All homeowners should consider getting coverage even if their area is low-risk. Rains are increasing across America and all 50 states have had floods in low-risk areas within the last five years. About a fifth of all claims in the program come from low-risk areas. Also, there is no way to get flood insurance in an emergency. NFIP policies only become active 30 days after purchase.

Additional flood insurance

Private flood insurance does still exist, but it is extraordinarily expensive. Few carriers even offer it. The more common option for companies is offering excess insurance beyond the NFIP limits. Homeowners with expensive houses they want to retain no matter what happens will need the additional coverage to rebuild in a catastrophic loss situation. This type of insurance only pays out if the NFIP limits are reached.

Author's Bio: 

A passionate writer and a blogger leading her own blog at awebtoknow.com. She started freelancing as a way to connect to other people, to reach to their hearts and make a difference with her word. The blog was born out of a pure desire to connect… to have the freedom of writing what really matters, what actually makes a difference.
A person who is a movie junkie and a crazy lover of pets of any size and kind. The Ocean combined with a warm breeze what really inspires and makes her smile. She loves writing just about everything that help people overcome an obstacle: marketing strategies, technological innovations, healthy living and human rights, freedom of opinions and much more…