Does My Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Storm Damage?

With the seasonal rains upon us, many families are wondering if water damage to their basement and possessions is covered by their homeowner’s insurance. According to Consumer Reports, standard homeowners insurance does not provide coverage for flooding caused by weather or other external forces.

Industry leader Farmers Insurance echoes this fact stating, “Homeowners policies in general do not provide coverage for flooding that comes from rising water levels due to a hurricane, rainstorm, melting snow, etc.”

Finally FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, states plainly that “Floods are the nation’s most common natural disaster [and] Flood damage is rarely covered under your homeowners or renters policy.”

This may come as an unwelcome surprise to you and thousands of others who might have thought they’re protected by their home insurance policy.  There are however, steps you can take to improve your insurance cover and, more importantly, reduce the likelihood that you’ll ever need to file a claim for a flooded basement.

What Type of Insurance Offers Financial Protection Against Basement Flooding?

If you’re unsure about your financial protection against flooding, the first step is to consult with your insurance broker. They can review your policy and evaluate your financial risk. This is important because the type of water damage often determines if you are covered.

For example, if a pipe bursts in your basement and water damage occurs, the chances are that your homeowners policy provides financial coverage. However, damage from water that has backed up into your home is not typically covered.

Grange Insurance, a respected insurance company based in Ohio, provides some excellent advice and insight on coverage due to water backing up into your home. They state flatly that,

“Water backup coverage is an optional endorsement that must be added onto a standard homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy. Without the endorsement, you would be stuck paying for the cost of cleanup or damages caused by a sump, sump pump or similar equipment that’s not considered a plumbing system or household appliance.”

Grange suggests adding coverage at a cost of $50 to $250 annually, depending on the limits you set and your risk exposure.  At a cost of $200 a year, that would be an investment of $1,000 for five years of financial coverage.

Its important to remember, however, that when a basement floods due to storm water, your losses will exceed mere financial considerations.

What is the Full Cost of a Flooded Basement Even With Insurance?

Insurance, of course, helps to reduce but does not eliminate the financial cost of a flooded basement.  When calculating the financial cost of water damage you also must factor in not only the cost of the rider or policy itself, but also the deductible and likelihood that there will be items damaged that are not covered.

For example, according to Business Insider, “furniture or other personal property located in a basement, crawl space, or “walkout” basement isn’t covered, including bookcases, window treatments, carpet, TVs [and] audio systems.”

In addition to your deductible, which can range from several hundred to a thousand or more dollars, there’s the time and emotional stress of having a flooded basement.

If you tally up the hard dollar cost of the flood insurance rider, the deductible for a covered event, and the personal time and costs that a basement full of water extracts, you’re likely calculating an avoidable cost in the thousands of dollars.

For anything other than a catastrophic weather event, the best protection against the full cost of a flooded basement, even if you have insurance, is to make sure that you’ve maximized the protection of your house against flooding.

The Non-Financial Cost of a Flooded Basement

In addition to the financial cost of water backing up into your basement, there are heavy emotional and personal costs of a basement flood. A recent study by the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada suggested that the stress of a flood impacts people long after the water recedes. According to Blair Feltmate, author of the study, “Even three years later, people were documenting that on a scale from one to five — five being the worst— when it rains that day, when there is a heavy rain that day or night they are stressed.”

Tanya Windibank walks through some her most valuable belongings that were ruined in a Windsor, Ont. flooding event last summer. Homeowners experience stress about flooding long after the water is gone, a recent study shows. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

There’s stress from worry even if your basement doesn’t flood. What if you’re a person who travels often on business, or a family that spends time in a summer or winter home? Insurance doesn’t cover the worry while you’re away the sump pump system could fail in one of a dozen different ways.

What if the items destroyed by brackish water are wedding photos, family heirlooms and other one-of-a-kind items of great personal value? Insurance won’t ever cover the loss felt when treasured keepsakes are turned into trash.

For some homeowners, water in their basement is an inconvenience, but not an emergency. They don’t mind essentially abandoning a few dozen or a few hundred square feet of floor space to regular flooding.

Others want and need to use their basement for secure storage, as play space for young kids, a sanctuary for teenagers or a bedroom for guests or extended family.  For these households, any water in the basement is an emergency.

It doesn’t take much water to create an expensive, time consuming mess in your basement

 

For those who care, the best insurance is a plan to mitigate storm water backing up into the home and this demands a sump pump system that you know will work.

The ProAct® 200 Insures That Your Entire Sump Pump System is Ready for Rain.

At Beacon we believe that you should think of your sump pump as part of a much larger basement flood protection system.  The system includes not only the sump pump, but also the the condition of the sump pit, the way the pump is powered, the discharge tube and check valve, and most importantly how you maintain all of the pieces.

The truth is if any of these components of a sump pump system are faulty your entire system will fail. A sump pump motor is only as good as the weakest link in the entire system.

As you can read here, the Beacon ProAct® 200 both monitors AND tests your entire sump pump system under real-world conditions.  It will tell you in advance if a check valve is faulty, a discharge pipe is blocked, or if there is something wrong with the pump itself.

The ProAct® 200 is Cheap Insurance Against the Likelihood of a Sump Pump System Failure.

For just $675, the ProAct® 200 is an inexpensive investment that will keep your basement dry by insuring that your entire sump pump system is in excellent working order. With the ProAct® 200 you can avoid ALL of the costs associated with a flooded basement, and there is no deductible!