Difference Between Flood and Water Backup

You may be miles away from the nearest body of water, but flooding is still a possibility, especially during the spring and fall storms. As a homeowner, you want to be properly covered with insurance. You probably know that under a standard homeowners insurance policy, flood damage is not covered. You need flood insurance. What you may think is flood insurance may be water backup insurance. Below we will discuss the difference between the two.

How is flood insurance defined?

A flood is an excess of water (or mud) that rises and usually enters the home through a door or window well. This is often the result of heavy rainfall or melting snow that causes nearby bodies of water to overflow. A flash flood occurs when a large amount of rain falls in a short span of time.

FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) definition of a flood is a temporary condition of partial or complete cover of at least two acres of normally dry land or two or more properties. Water must come from one of these sources:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
  • Mudflow
  • Shorefront land collapses or sinks due to water above “anticipated cyclical levels”

Why is FEMA’s definition important, because you have purchased flood insurance from an insurance agent, it is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program. You must live in a flood zone to qualify for flood insurance. If you have a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, you are most likely required to purchase flood insurance if you live in a high-risk area.

Flood insurance covers the damage from rising water, not falling water like damage to walls from rain (this might be covered by your homeowners insurance). Building and contents coverage are separate and coverage is limited in basements. Water damage from a failed sump pump isn’t covered and water damage caused by a sewer backup into the home can only be covered if it’s a direct result from the flooding.

This is where water backup insurance comes into play.

How is water backup defined?

Excess water can cause sewers and drains to back up into your home, usually through a sump well or fixtures in your basement or lowest level. During a severe storm, sump pumps can fail due to power outages or they sometimes can’t keep up with all the extra water. And the next thing you know you are ankle-deep in water.

While you think you have a “flooded basement” what you have is usually defined by insurance terms is water backup.

Water backup coverage is offered on your homeowners insurance policy as an additional endorsement. Always check with your insurance agent on the details when adding this coverage, because some backup policies cover sewer backups but not sump pump failures.

It is also important to remember that water backup insurance does not cover damage from foundation seepage.

Find the right insurance solution for you

Whether you need flood insurance, water backup insurance or both depends on lots of factors. These factors include where your home is located, your flood risk, terms of your mortgage and the structure of your home.

An independent insurance agent, like Frimark/Keller & Associates can help you understand your options. It is important to go over the specifics and fine print before purchasing. Also make sure you have a thorough understanding of what your policy does and does not cover. Remember to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

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