Every year, everyone seems to bring more rain to Ohio and more water in basements. But homeowners insurance policies treat water differently depending on the cause. And not ALL water is covered by homeowners' insurance, either through the basic policy or even as a supplement to the insurance.
So, let's dig in and talk about the differences between water backup and flood, as these will determine how (or if) a claim is paid. We also discuss available insurance solutions for these two common exceptions for homeowners.
What is water backup?
A standard definition is this: water or sewage that backs up through sewers or drains, or that enters or flows out of a sump pump, sump pump well or any other system designed to remove the subsurface water drained from the ground area.
To bring this definition to life, here are several examples of claims about water backup that we have seen:
- A floor drain in a basement becomes clogged and the water backs through
- The same drain can become clogged, but instead of water backs up wastewater from the drain to the basement.
- The amount of rain is too much for a sump pump to handle and it cannot keep up with draining the water. The excess water backs up on the floor.
The most important thing to note is that Water Backup is a common exclusion of homeowners, but can often be "bought back" via an inscription that is of course called "Water Backup from Sewers, Drainage or failure of a sump pump".
, but typical limits include $ 5000, $ 1
FYI: our typical water backup reserve is between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000. Finished basements can tend to be higher.
What gives approval for water backup at the time of complaint?
Here is a list of what backup from water gives at the time of complaint:
- Cost for water withdrawal – this can be for a plumber or a professional company like Servicemaster or Servpro. It can even be expenses you get yourself – like buying Shop-Vacs to soak up the water.
- Cost of drying out personal property or the structure itself. Pro Tip: Keep in mind that apart from fire, water is the worst thing that happens to a house. If not dried out properly, mold, mildew and rot can easily develop (and most homeowners have limitations on these for future claims!). If the water damage is severe enough, we recommend that you use a professional fire and water restoration company (such as a Servicemaster, Servpro, etc.) to recover. They have high-tech equipment that can actually measure the amount of moisture in the walls, so the chances of mold or mildew are significantly reduced.
- Cost of repairing or replacing damaged personal property. Using a professional restoration company often means unpacking your damaged personal property and taking it to their place to "dry out" and hopefully save you. You would be amazed at what can be done provided it is picked up on time.
- Cost of repairing or replacing structural damage – floors and plaster are two of the largest items, especially with finished basements.
You can quickly see that the water safety certificate not only covers decontamination costs but also fixes what has been damaged.
What is flood?
According to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program, the textbook definition is as follows:
- A general and temporary permit of partial or complete flooding of 2 or more acres of normally dry land or of 2 or more properties (of which at least 1 is the policyholder's property) from:  Abundance of inland or tides; or
- Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source; or
- Collapse or immersion of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water due to erosion or undermining caused by waves or water currents exceeding expected cyclical levels resulting in a flood as defined above.
Here is a typical example in our area: rain falls quickly and heavily and the ground simply can not absorb the water. It travels along the ground and is drained to lower levels in a house, such as a basement. NOTE: these were most of the calls we received after the recent floods.
Flooding is a common exclusion of homeowners in Ohio homeowner policies with no repurchase available. There may be a handful of companies that offer limited flood reporting, but they are few and far between.
To get full blood flood coverage for your home, you need to purchase flood insurance. Period. Although we do not sell flood insurance, you CAN contact the National Flood Insurance Programs Help Center at 800-427-4661 for a referral in your area.
For additional resources regarding flood insurance, visit FEMA | National flood insurance program (including frequently asked questions, definitions and how insurance is assessed).
Additional insurance solutions
We have access to a limited flood through two of our companies that cover typical flood damage, such as damage to a home, personal property (including property in a basement), loss of use and debris removal ( subject to title). It is a recommendation on homeowners insurance. You must have Water Backup coverage to get approval of the inland river, and the coverage limit and deductible must match. The idea is to provide coverage where Water Backup does not. Again, this is not flood insurance, but something that helps fill the gap.
Here is a good example of when the coverage for the inland river would apply: A stream behind a home overflows and water enters the basement through the windows. The sump pump cannot handle the water, so the basement is filled with water. Again, this was the typical call we received after the recent floods. Why does water backup not apply here? Because the reason why the event occurred at all is that the stream overflows.
Now you should start to see that there ARE drastic differences between backup and flood. The most common seems to be that water backup comes from below and travels upwards, while flooding is along the ground and travels over.
Worried that your homeowners insurance in Ohio does not have the coverage you need for Water Backup or Inland Flood? Fill in the form below and we will be happy to review your current policy. We can offer solid alternatives to minimize your worries!