Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Flooding?

Written by April Weismann on 03/09/2022 01:07 PM in Homeowners Insurance.

Homeowners insurance provides many essential protections for residents who have houses in New Hampshire. But unfortunately, flood insurance coverage isn’t one of those protections.Homeowners Insurance Flooding in New Hampshire

Is My New Hampshire House Covered by Homeowners Insurance If It Floods?

The standard homeowner's insurance policy does not provide any coverage for flood damage.  A separate policy must be purchased either through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or a private market.

Do I Have Coverage for Flood if my NH Homeowner's Insurance is "All-Risk"?

Insurance professionals are not fans of the term all-risk because it is inaccurate.  No policy would cover absolutely anything that could cause damage to a house, primarily because of the following reasons:

1. Higher probability of an insured's moral hazard leading to unnecessary claims. This is why neglect is specifically excluded from most property policies and intentional loss.

2. Property policies have exclusions to prevent massive claims that could bankrupt an insurance company, such as property damage caused by flood, war, or a nuclear hazard.

How do insurance companies define "flooding"?

Insurance companies generally define “flooding” as water damage from a flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not driven by the wind.

This could include flooding from heavy rain or snowmelt, as well as an overflow of inland or tidal waters.

Flooding can also include water that backs up through sewers or drains or overflows from a sump; or water below the ground surface, including water that exerts pressure on or seeps or leaks through a building, sidewalk, driveway, foundation, swimming pool, or other structure.

The good news is that though NH Homeowners carriers do not offer coverage for surface water damage from heavy rain or overflow of tidal or inland waters, many do offer water backup coverage.  That said, it usually has to be added by endorsement and is not frequently automatically provided.

What if a pipe burst in my home- is that considered a flood?

Though homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood, a burst pipe that floods a room does not meet the definition of a flood, so it is often covered.  That said, be sure to consult with your insurance professional, especially if you have a secondary or seasonal home or plan on being away from your primary home for an extended length of time.  You may need to install a water leak detector.

Why would I need flood insurance if my home is not in a flood zone?

The severity of flooding in NH and across the country is real. During the summer of 2021, up to four inches of rain fell overnight, causing flash floods and property damage. Most damages were not on the coast, where one may assume damage, but inland.  In short, you should consider flood insurance if it rains where you live.

The basics of flood insurance:

Flood insurance can help fill in the gap that homeowners' policies leave.  Typically a flood policy will cover the homeowner for water damage caused by the temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land OR two or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder's property) from:

1. Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or

2. Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or

3. Mudslides caused by flooding

4. Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or a similar body of water due to erosion caused by waves or currents exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood.

When there is a covered flooding event, flood policies can provide protection through a few primary coverages:

  • Buildings: May cover houses, additions, manufactured homes, detached garages, etc.
  • Contents: May cover clothes, finished floors, carpets, appliances, etc.
  • Others: May cover debris removal, loss avoidance, HOA special assessments, etc.
Contents coverage can include various belongings or be limited to only appliances. Discuss the details of your belongings and location (in the basement vs. the first floor) to ensure the flood policy covers what you expect.

Flood policies are available to New Hampshire homeowners

A few years ago, the only way to purchase flood insurance was through an agent and FEMA.  But with the frequency of significant flood claims and scrutiny of the financial health of the government-backed program, FEMA flood rates are on the rise. 

The good news is that, at the same time, technology is improving, allowing the private market to want to get into the flood insurance market, so there are now more options for consumers.  

HPM Insurance has access to both FEMA flood and private flood insurance companies, so contact us today to discuss your options.

Get help insuring your New Hampshire home

Homeowners insurance and flood insurance are two important policies to consider, but they aren’t the only ones you should consider. At HPM Insurance, our independent agents can help you consider all policy types -- homeowners, flood, and others -- that might help protect your home. We’ll walk you through each, so you can make informed decisions and ensure your house is protected as you want.

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