Does homeowners insurance cover flooding?

flooded streetWe’ve said it many times before and we’ll no doubt say it again: Typical homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. This is one of the biggest consumer misconceptions we hear – and a painful, costly lesson to learn by experience. You need a separate flood insurance policy to be covered – and your policy must be in place for at least 30 days to be in effect, so a last-minute purchase when you hear about flooding potential would be too late. September is National Preparedness Month, and in this first week, the emphasis is on flood prep – so it’s a good reminder.

Now if you have water in the cellar from a burst pipe or some other household failure, your homeowners insurance may cover your flooded basement damage. But for storm-related, flooding damage, you’d need flood coverage. Here’s a listing of what is typically covered in a flood insurance policy.

While you may think your flood risk is negligible, floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states. Here are a few interesting flood facts from that you may not know:

  • In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods; Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 15 feet high.
  • People outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding.
  • Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • From 2010 to 2014, the average flood claim amounted to nearly $42,000.

Learn more about your flood risk and get an estimated coverage cost. If you don’t have flood coverage, it’s time to talk things over with your independent insurance agent.

Here are some other flood tools:

Deluge central: tips & tools for heavy rains & floods

Rain is great for spring growth, particularly when so many parts of the country are experiencing drought, but it would be nice to have the rain is more measured amounts! It’s pretty soggy right now and rain may continue off and on through this evening. Here are some heavy rain & flooding resources, tips and safety notes.

Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Are you covered? Check your flood risk


Insurance Information Institute: Flood preparedness

Flood risk scenarios

Flood Insurance Claims Handbook – FEMA/NFIP

Consumer Reports: How to drive safely in heavy rain and wind

Turn Around, Don’t Drive
“Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters. ”

Flash flood safety (PDF)

How to dry a wet basement

Drying out a wet basement

Spring floods: a nasty forecast. Is your home or business prepared?

The Insurance Information Institute reports that there is a strong potential for a nasty flood season. While the areas at highest risk are in the Upper Midwest, The national Weather Service says that parts of southern New England, New York and Pennsylvania are also at risk. And NWS reminds us that while snow runoff can increase the risk in some areas in the spring, flooding is a coast to coast threat to the United States and its territories in all months of the year. At, you can check your geographical risk via Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
Flood preparation for businesses
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has issued a checklist on Disaster Planning for Small Businesses, which covers key steps for preparation, as well as an overview of related insurance issues that you need to consider.
NAIC also issues a reminder that flood is not a covered peril in a standard business property insurance policy. They note that flood coverage can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, but there is usually a 30-day waiting period for a policy to go into force. They suggest checking with your insurance agent if the flood insurance property limits from the NFIP are inadequate to cover your business.
AgilityRecovery, specialists in disaster recovery, says that your business is more likely to flood than burn down, so they offer this helpful Business Flood Preparedness Checklist.
Flood preparation for homeowners
The Insurance Information Institute offers a useful information on preparing for a flood and recovering from a flood. The site also offers a variety of other helpful resources related to disaster preparedness. is the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program. You can learn about obtaining residential coverage and what it covers. The site also offers advice on flood recovery and filing claims.
Additional flood resources
Flood Safety – resources from NOAA
Flood recovery resources and insurance issues
Consumer alert: don’t buy a flood-damaged car
Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Flood recovery resources and insurance issues in the aftermath of New England flooding

New England is still recovering from the record Northeast flooding. If you missed it, you can view the scope of the damage in this gallery of dramatic Northeast flood photos. Now, it’s time to move forward. We’ve gathered various recovery resources for those who suffered damage in these floods.
Are you eligible for disaster assistance? At you can apply for assistance online, or take an anonymous pre-screening questionnaire to see if you are eligible for assistance. Various other resources are available. including advance preparation for emergencies, and resources for disaster recovery.
Rhode Island
Rhode Island Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Rhode Island residents and businesses in all 5 counties who were affected by the recent flooding. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened Disaster Recovery Centers in Cranston and Warwick. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Massachusetts Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Massachusetts residents and businesses that were declared as major disaster areas March 29: Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened 5 Disaster Recovery Centers and has FEMA inspectors assessing storm damage in seven Massachusetts counties. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, so unless you have a specific flood policy, you may be out of luck. Check to see if you have a sump pump failure rider to supplement your homeowners, which may offer some relief.
Even if your homeowners policy doesn’t cover flooding, if you have experienced anything more than minor damage, you may want to file a claim:

  • When your insurer investigates the actual cause of the loss, you may have some coverage.
  • If you are eligible for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, you will likely need a letter of denial from your insurer. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate any assistance that insurance already covers.
  • Your insurer and agent may be able to suggest resources and service firms for emergency restoration professionals in your area. They may have other resources and advice available to help you mitigate and recover from your loss.
  • If you have comprehensive insurance as part of your standard auto insurance policy, you may be covered for water or flood damage to your car. You would need to contact your agent to check the specific coverage provisions in your policy.

Recovery resources

Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Here’s a question thousands of homeowners and renters will be asking now that the recent heavy rains are abating: Will insurance cover the water damage in my basement? Unfortunately for most the answer is “probably not.” Standard Homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so unless you have a specific flood insurance policy, you will have to foot the bill for any water damage from the recent rains. The Insurance Information Institute offers this rule of thumb: water that comes from from top down (ice dams, for example) is generally covered, but when water comes from the bottom up, such as in flooding, it’s not covered.

Many homeowners who live in a low-risk flood area think they do not need to insure against flooding but the reality is that in any given year, about one-third of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program are for policies in low-risk communities. Over a 30-year mortgage, your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood, compared to a 9% chance of fire. Water damage repair can be costly – you can learn just how costly with this inch-by-inch interactive cost of flooding calculator.
You can learn more about floods, your risk of flooding, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at Don’t get caught short – talk to your agent about flood insurance options – if you are in a low to moderate risk zone, insurance can be very affordable.