Q&A: Do I really have “flood insurance”?
Most standard home insurance policies come with limited coverage for water damage — and with extreme weather events making water damage more and more common (to the point that water has surpassed fire as the leading cause of home insurance claims), it’s important to find out how your own insurance policy would respond to a water claim.
We’re here to answer some common questions about water coverage. Note that specific coverages vary by location and by insurer, so reach out to your broker to find out what’s covered by your own policy and what additional coverage is available to you.
What kind of water damage is covered by my basic home insurance policy?
Most standard home insurance policies cover water damage caused by things inside of your home (like a burst pipe or a popped waterbed), but damage caused by water that enters your home from external sources (during a heavy rainfall, a sewer backup, or a sump pump failure, for example) is likely not covered.
The good news is, depending on your location and your insurance carrier, you may be able to purchase additional coverage to protect you in the event of these increasingly common emergencies. Reach out to your licensed home insurance broker to confirm if additional coverage is available on your policy.
What kind of optional add-ons are available?
While optional add-ons vary by insurance company and location, here are two of the more common water-related add-ons to discuss with your broker:
Overland water coverage
Generally speaking, overland water coverage is designed to protect you from damage caused by excessive rain, overflowing rivers, spring run-off, and melting snow. It usually excludes damage caused by saltwater, including tidal waves, and tsunamis.
Sewer backup coverage
Sewer backup coverage is generally set up to protect you from loss or damage to your property when caused by the rupture or escape of water from a sewer, drain, sump pump, or septic system.
Tip: Installing a backwater valve can help minimize your risk of a sewer backup.
What if I have to evacuate during a flood?
Most home, condo, and tenant insurance policies include coverage for additional living expenses, which pays for out-of-pocket expenses for things like food and accommodation when you’re forced to leave home because of an event that’s covered by your policy. If you’ve purchased overland water coverage, you may be able to claim your additional living expenses when your local government orders an evacuation as a result of flooding, or if you need to stay away from your home during the repair process after a flood.
All home insurance policies are unique, so review your policy and connect with your insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you need before the next flooding season.