Many people are shocked to find that their homeowner’s insurance company is telling them they have no coverage for the flooding damage to their home. This is hard to understand and accept.
You find that your home is filled with water. The house, the furniture, and much of your personal property is destroyed. It will cost thousands of dollars to repair the home and replace your valuables.
Whether your insurance will cover the loss depends on:
1 – how the water entered your home; and,
2 – what kind of insurance policy you purchased.
There are basically two types of insurance that homeowners can purchase:
a – a standard homeowner’s policy with, or without special riders
b – a flood insurance policy
The standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not pay for flood damage. Common 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 will only be covered if you have a FLOOD INSURANCE POLICY.
The standard homeowner’s policy will cover many types of water damage to your home – generally if the water comes in before it has contact with the ground. Some examples might be:
- 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.
There are always exceptions and matters of interpretation that an attorney can help you with. For example, losses from theft, fire, or explosion resulting from flood damage can be covered. If a flood damages your home and looters steal some of your furnishings after you evacuate, the theft could be covered by your homeowners.
If you suffered from the recent hurricane and are not satisfied with what your insurance company is telling you, we will meet with you for a free consultation on whether the company’s interpretation could be challenged. Whatever you do, document your losses. Make a complete list. Take as many pictures as possible. Write and keep a log of what happened and when.
For more information on insurance coverages you may want to read the following brochure issued by the New Jersey Department of Insurance.
If you suffered flood losses now, but did not have flood insurance, you should consider getting it for the future.
There also may be FEMA (Federal Emergency Management) monies available to cover some of your uninsured losses if President Obama signs a declaration to that effect.
Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.