Water Damage Insurance Claims vs. Flood Claims

When water causes damage in your home, should you file a water damage insurance claim or a flood claim?  You ask. We explain.

Broken pipes, overflowing bathtubs, broken toilets, burst water mains, damaged washing machine hoses and flash floods. There are so many ways water can cause expensive damage to your home. When the damage happens, your first step is to determine whether you have a water damage insurance claim or a flood claim.

Although they sound similar, water damage and flood damage are radically different insurance terms. If your home has been damaged by water, here’s how to determine if you need to file a flood insurance claim or a water damage claim.

Flood and water claim distinctions

The difference between a water damage claim and a flood claim is best distinguished by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood definition.

Flood definition

A flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres and two or more properties of normally dry land. Flood damage can only be caused by the following water sources:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
  • Mudflow
  • Collapse of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above

If the water causing damage in your home is coming from any of these sources, you are probably dealing with flood damage and will need to file a flood damage insurance claim with your flood insurance provider.

Water damage definition

Simply put, the main difference between a flood claim and a water damage claim is where the water comes from. With flood damage, the water comes from a natural source and two or more properties are involved (if you reside in a generally residential versus rural area). If you and your neighbors are all having water issues due to heavy rains and/or rising waters, then you are likely dealing with a flood insurance claim rather than a water insurance claim. For water damage, you have the water damage issue inside your home, but your neighbor may not.

Stay protected from flood and water damage

Because home insurance companies do not offer flood insurance, only property owners with flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program can file flood damage insurance claims. If you do not currently have flood insurance, but you are concerned about your risk of flood damage, learn more about purchasing flood insurance and filing flood claims at www.floodsmart.gov.

If you are dealing with water in your house but your neighbor doesn’t have any issues, you are most likely dealing with a water damage claim. Start filing a water damage insurance claim by contacting your home insurance company.

If you have any questions about your home’s current protection from water damage, be sure to call your insurance policy holder to discuss your concerns.