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Flood damage vs. water damage

Posted October 02, 2013 in Adel, Advice Column

I know we are not in the normal flood season, but the recent rain and wind storm has caused me to consider talking about flood damage vs. water damage.

Are both of these covered on my homeowners insurance? Also, why would I need flood insurance when I do not live by the ocean, sea, river or lake? A recent article from friend and insurance expert John Hlas (CIC) explains this topic very well.

“There basically are two insurance policies that deal with a homeowner’s damage due to water — a flood insurance policy and a homeowners insurance policy. Losses not covered by one of these policies may be covered by the other.

Flood insurance
As the name implies, a standard flood insurance policy, which is written through the National Flood Insurance Program, provides coverage for damage caused by flood. The dictionary defines “flood” as a rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land. For insurance purposes, the word “rising” is the key to distinguishing “flood” damage from “water” damage.

Generally, damage caused by water that has been on the ground before damaging your home is considered to be flood damage. Some examples of flood damage include:
•    A nearby river overflows its banks and washes into your home.
•    A heavy rain seeps into your basement because the soil can’t absorb the water quickly enough.
•    A heavy rain or flash flood causes the hill behind your house to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.

Flood damage to your home can be insured only with a flood insurance policy — no other insurance will cover flood damage. If you are living in a flood plain, flood insurance may be an excellent purchase.

Homeowners insurance
A homeowners insurance policy does not provide coverage for flood damage, but it does provide coverage for many types of water damage to your home. Water damage occurs when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground. Some examples of water damage include:
•    A hailstorm smashes your window, permitting hail and rain free access into your home.
•    A heavy rain soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling.
•    A broken water pipe spews water into your home.

Though flood damage is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy, losses from theft, fire or explosion resulting from flood damage are covered. For example, if a nearby creek overflows and floods your home, and looters steal some of your furnishings after you evacuate, the theft would be covered by your homeowners insurance. However, the flood damage would be covered only if you have flood insurance.”

Information provided by Joshua Heisterkamp, AVP with LSB Insurance, 805 Main St., Adel, 515-993-5663,,

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