After Irene, Home Owners Find Insurance Gaps

August 30, 2011

East coast home owners with flooded basements, failed sump pumps, or other water damage caused by Hurricane Irene over the weekend may have to dig deep down into their own pockets to cover costs, even if they have homeowners insurance.

Many home owners are finding that their homeowners insurance policies will not cover the damage caused by Irene, since the majority of policies do not cover damage from flooding. Most of Irene’s damage over the weekend was caused by flooding, not wind. 

“Standard homeowners policies cover structural and water damage when wind or a falling tree knocks a hole in a roof, or breaks a window, allowing rain to fall inside,” the Associated Press reports. “But there's generally no coverage for the home itself, or for personal belongings, when damage results from rising water. That includes water that seeps up from saturated ground through a basement floor, and homes near beaches flooded by storm surges.”

Irene brought mostly coastal flooding and heavy rains along the East Coast and was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it struck New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and several coastal communities. 

A poll by the Insurance Information Institute earlier this year found that only 14 percent of home owners had a flood insurance policy. Only 5 percent of home owners in the Northeast, where Irene caused the most flooding damage, reported having flood insurance.

Source: “Flood Damage? Few Irene Victims Covered Unless They had Flood Insurance,” Associated Press (Aug. 29, 2011)

Read More:
From NAR: Irene Underscores Importance of National Flood Insurance Program

Property Insurance Industry Gets Battered by Irene