Once hurricane season has done its damage, many homeowners are left confused about what the difference is between water damage and flood damage.
While these may seem like two of the same things, they’re actually completely different in the property damage insurance industry.
Why is it important to know the difference between water damage and flood damage? Because one is often missing from your usual homeowners or hurricane insurance policy – so, if you’re aren’t aware, you could be left paying for substantial repair bills.
Here’s what you need to know:
What Is Water Damage in Florida?
Water damage usually is caused by internal issues within the house, such as a plumbing disaster.
For example, imagine you’re at home, watching a movie with the kids, when suddenly you see water flowing down the stairs like a waterfall because a bathroom pipe has burst.
That’s water damage.
Examples of Water Damage:
- Burst pipes
- Toilet overflowing
- Bathtub or shower leaks
- Refrigerator or freezer leaks
- Washing machine leaks
- Dishwasher leaks
- HVAC systems failing to drain
- Automatic fire systems
What Is Flood Damage in Florida?
Flood damage defines damage caused by Mother Nature’s external force. Whereas water damage is caused by plumbing, toilets or human error, Flood damage is caused by natural sources such as storms and rivers.
If a river in your neighborhood rises over its banks into your home, that’s flood damage.
Examples of Flood Damage in Florida:
- Hurricanes and storms
- Rivers overflowing
- Lakes overflowing
- Flooding from the ocean
What Does This Mean in a Property Damage Claim?
If you don’t have both included in your insurance policy, you’re at risk of not being covered for one of these types of damage.
Usually, Florida residents will have water damage coverage and not flood damage coverage.
Given that Florida is extremely vulnerable to violent storms and hurricanes, having flood damage in your policy is highly advised.
If you’re unsure, pull out your insurance policy document and read over the terms.
Is Flood Damage Covered in Hurricane Policies?
If a hurricane causes flooding in your home, you will not be covered by your hurricane damage policy in Florida.
Sadly, many people make this assumption and are left to cover a huge bill after a hurricane.
A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover all flood damage, even if it is caused by the most violent hurricane in history.
There is usually a 30-day waiting period when adding flood insurance, so it’s always advised to be proactive rather than reactive and buy the additional policy now.
What to Do if My Property Has Suffered Water Damage or Flood Damage in Florida?
File a Property Damage Claim
If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, you can file a property damage claim to cover the expenses required for repairs.
However, this is easier said than done.
Property damage claims will require you to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies who have one intention – to pay you as little as possible.
In many cases, we’ve seen homeowners denied completely, as the insurance company claims it was because a window was left open, for example.
Undervalued claims are also a common trick used by insurance companies, as they pressure property owners into a lowball offer.
Accepting these offers leaves the owners without enough coverage for their repairs and they end up paying money out of their own pocket.
Speak to a Water Damage Attorney
That’s why it’s highly advised that you first speak to a Florida water damage attorney. We will communicate with the insurers on your behalf, avoiding their manipulation techniques and getting you the true coverage for your property damage.
Document The Damage
If safe to do so, you should also document the water damage or flood damage as this can become crucial evidence.
Take pictures of the property and keep receipts for appliances and any emergency repairs.
What Damage Is Caused by Water and Flooding?
When disaster strikes, either inside or outside of the home, your property may suffer severe flooding and water-inflicted damage. This can result in catastrophic damage that is expensive to repair and may not be immediately visible. This may include:
Structural and Electrical Damage
Large quantities of water can cause structural damage that can make the property unsafe to live in.
- Buckling floors
- Roof damage
- Foundational cracks and movements
- Weakened doors and window frames
Additionally, if you notice any broken or frayed electrical wires in your home after a flood, be very careful. These may be lethal and are warning signs to stay out of the home immediately until an electrician assesses them.
Appliances are expensive purchases that can be destroyed in seconds by water. Appliances at floor level are usually severely damaged in floods, beyond repair. Appliances are usually covered in flood damage or water damage claims.
Mold and Mildew
Mold can begin to grow on the same day the water or flood damage occurs. Mold can cause health issues and severe damage to building materials, drywall, flooring, insulation and personal property.
Professional mold cleaning and repairs can be covered in a property damage claim.
Septic and Well Water Systems
Septic tank filters can get clogged by flooding debris, limiting its use. Similarly, wells can become contaminated.
Termite and Bug Infestation
Moldy and flooded areas can quickly become the perfect home and breeding grounds for rodents, termites and unpleasant bugs. Cleaning out these will require professional services that should be covered in water damage or flood damage claims.
Recap – What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims?
- Water damage is caused by internal disasters, such as burst pipes and plumbing accidents.
- Flood damage is caused by acts of nature, such as hurricanes and flooding rivers.
Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims
If your property has suffered damage due to water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.
Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.