Maybe a recent rainstorm left a few inches of water in your basement, or perhaps a pipe burst in your home. Either way your home has incurred some serious damage, and you’re waiting anxiously for updates on your water damage insurance claim. You finally hear from them after days in a hotel, and they inform you that it’ll be a few more days until you have an answer. When you demand an answer about why the process is taking you so long, you’re baffled when they claim that they’re trying to decide if your home was flood damaged or water damaged.
The difference between flood damage and water damage may not mean anything to the typical home owner, but they mean everything to your insurance co., adjuster. There is a distinct difference between damages caused by a flood, and damages caused by excess water. The vast majority of insurance companies define a flood as a rising and overflowing of a body of water onto dry land. The word “rising” plays a big role in determining whether or not an insurance company will classify a claims instance as flood or water damage. Again, the word FLOOD means water coming from a rising body of water (an ocean, river, etc.,) as opposed to water from a toilet overflow, burst pipe, or plumbing leak which usually is covered.
A nearby river that overflows its banks and washes into your home would be considered a flood. Rain that flows into your basement because it can’t be absorbed by the water saturated soil around your house is a flood. Even a mud slide that oozes muck into your home that was caused by heavy rain or a flash flood would be considered flood damage.
The definition of water damage is much broader, and involves virtually any instance without rising water. Water damage is also usually caused by internal issues in a home or building. A broken water heater that floods your basement, a rain saturated roof that leads to leaks and drips, or a burst pipe would be considered instances of water damage.
It’s important to keep in mind that certain issues resulting in water damage may be denied if poor home maintenance or negligence caused the problem. That’s why it’s important for home owners to routinely perform maintenance, and be aware of any restrictions their insurance policy may place on claims.
The legal definition of an insurance claim is a one-time loss and not an ongoing problem due to neglect.