Water Damage Insurance Claims vs. Flood Damage 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. If water damages your home, your first step is to determine whether you have a water damage claim or a flood claim.

Claim distinctions

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

Simply put, the main difference between a flood claim and a water damage claim is that 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.

Because home insurance companies do not offer flood insurance, only property owners with flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program can file flood 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 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 claim by contacting your home insurance company.