Florida homeowners are in an untenable position. Many insurers don’t offer flood insurance at all, while other insurers have dropped clients and some insurance companies no longer operate in the state. The reason flood damage claims are often denied is to preserve profitability. Insurers would have to pay out more in damages than the premiums they’ve collected.
Flood insurance in Florida is complicated. It’s important to understand the difference between water damage and flood damage from the insurer’s perspective. Policies don’t consider flood damage as water damage. Unless a policy holder specifically has flood insurance, their claim will be denied. The damage associated with hurricanes and storms isn’t covered under water damage.
Ordinary water damage from a broken or leaky pipe will typically be covered, but homeowners need to read their policies carefully to ascertain if the damage is a covered risk. Policies are written with very specific conditions that must be met for the insurer to pay for damage.
Most policies state that if the water touches the ground before the damage occurred, it’s considered flooding and exempt from coverage. If the insurer determines action the homeowner did or didn’t take would have avoided the damage, the insurer won’t pay for repairs.
Policies are beginning to contain a long list of exclusions designed to limit or absolve insurers of paying for water-related damage in general. Policies equate any type of water damage with flooding. The reasons include rising costs of materials to make repairs, the frequency and severity of hurricanes and storms, and climate change.
Even if homeowners and renters have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), coverage doesn’t cover living expenses while individuals are waiting for their homes to be repaired. There are also limits on the dollar amount the NFIP will cover and the items that are protected. The process of cleanup and reconstruction can take months or even years.