Your home insurance doesn’t cover it
It may come as a shock, but flood damage is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Flood insurance in Mississippi is a totally separate insurance policy that you’ll want to consider adding to protect your home or business because 90 percent of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve some type of flooding. Our state in particular is subject to a wide range of natural disasters.
If you’re considering a new home, ask your insurance agent, city officials, or your mortgage lender about the flood risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA also provides a very handy online flood map that allows you to view flood information at just about any address. Check it out! Even if you find that the area isn’t a high flood risk, there’s still a chance that flooding could occur. Talk to your agent about your flood insurance options anyway because 20 percent of all flood claims happen in low to moderate flood risk areas.
What exactly is a flood?
In short, flood waters come from outside your home.
Flood waters must either affect at least two properties or cover at least two acres of land. That means water from outside your property must rise and cause damage to yours and at least one other home. Flood waters are categorized as the “unusual rapid accumulation or runoff or surface waters” including an overflow of inland or tidal waters.
Flood insurance in Mississippi won’t provide coverage if your home’s plumbing or water heater leaks and causes water damage. Your homeowners policy is for water damage caused by plumbing or appliances.
Unless a flood, as described above, is the cause of a backup and overflow, sewer system or sump pump overflows are not considered a flood, even though they might come from outside your home.
Now, there are times when your homeowners policy might cover damage from water outside your home. Suppose wind-driven rain, such as in a hurricane, creates an opening in your home’s roof, windows, doors, or walls. In that case, your homeowners insurance can cover the damage. But, (there’s always a but) if that same rainwater were to collect on the ground surface and then enter your home, that would be considered a flood and NOT covered by your homeowners policy. That’s what this whole flood insurance thing is for.
What about endorsements or riders added to homeowners policies that cover some flood events?
Those endorsements are indeed available on some homeowners policies (not all). Those endorsements are meant to cover sewer overflow or backups that cause damage to your home, and that does sometimes happen during a flood. However, the dollar amount these policy additions can pay is often far less than a separate flood policy would pay.
When should I get a flood insurance policy?
No time like the present! That’s because flood insurance includes a waiting period of 30 days before the policy takes effect. This prevents people from waiting until water rises and flooding is inevitable. Insurance companies got wise to that years ago when people waited until the last minute to purchase flood policies resulting in millions and millions and millions of dollars in claims.
What does flood insurance really cover?
Flood insurance provides coverage for damages to your property and possessions. The most common flood policy covers up to $250,000 for your home structure and $100,000 for your personal property inside. Flood damage to personal property in basements is limited to certain types of air conditioners, freezers, and clothes washers and dryers. Some items used to finish your basement are also not covered, such as wall coverings and permanently installed carpeting.