Water Damage vs Flood Damage: What’s the Difference?

When water damage occurs, you often must replace everything water touches. This includes floors, walls, and structural components of the home, as well as personal possessions. Flooring and drywall often need to be removed, and dehumidifiers are brought to dry everything fully. Once dry, the rebuild process can begin.

It's important to understand the differences between water and flood damage and to be sure you understand your insurance coverage in both scenarios.

The Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage

Many people think water damage and flood damage are used interchangeably. When it comes to insurance companies and repair coverage, they are quite different.

  • Water damage is usually caused by plumbing, such as a backup from a toilet, a flooded air-conditioning unit, or an overflowed washing machine.
  • Flood damage is usually caused by water originating from a natural disaster, hurricane, or heavy rain event. This can include flash-flooding, sump pump failure, or prolonged roof leaks.

What Causes Water Damage?

bathroom & plumbingHomeowners often experience water damage as a result of a burst pipe or a plumbing issue. Water damage also occurs when a toilet, refrigerator, washing machine, or HVAC system doesn't drain properly, causing a flood.

The resulting damage can be severe depending on the leak's location and how long it is before someone finds it. Water from a second floor or in an attic will often impact the floors beneath it.

What about Damage from Storms or Rain?

Heavy rains may cause water damage without causing flood damage. If your home's roof is damaged during a storm and rainwater leaks into the house, it is usually considered water, not flood damage. The key difference is the event that caused the damage, in this case, a storm.

What Causes Flood Damage?

Defining what constitutes flood damage is a bit more complex. Generally speaking, flood damage is damage to the home as a direct result of a flooding event. In other words, it must rain enough to create either a flooding event or a flash flood. This can happen during a natural disaster or a hurricane that produces heavy rainfall in a short period of time. It can also occur when you don't have a proper slope for stormwater runoff around your home or when a rain or storm control basin near you overflows.

What is Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?

It's common for people to believe homeowner’s insurance will cover flood damage. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. While your policy usually covers water damage, it will not pay for expenses related to a flood event. Again, it’s imperative to remember that flood damage and water damage repair are two separate things as far as insurance is concerned. 

A homeowner must have a separate flood insurance rider to have coverage for a flood caused by weather events. If you live in an area with a high risk of floods, obtaining a separate flood insurance policy is necessary.

Water Damage & Homeowners Insurance

Your homeowner's policy routinely covers water damage. In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons people have insurance in the first place. The truth is, almost everyone will experience water damage at some point in their life. Depending on the severity of the damage and how long it takes to discover and control the water source, the situation may be minor.

It’s always best to leave the decision up to the professionals who routinely assess this type of damage. Not fixing water damage quickly can result in additional damage to the home. Leaving carpeting, flooring, or walls wet can cause mold growth, which can be harmful when inhaled. Even if it looks like water damage is negligible, there may be water or moisture in your behind walls or under floors.

When water damage occurs, it's vital to have a professional assess the situation using moisture meters and professional equipment.

Flood Damage Insurance

Flood damage and insurance are a bit more complex. Depending on the home location and your insurer, it may be possible to add a rider to your existing homeowner's policy to cover flood damage. In this case, the homeowner needs to pay attention to any clauses or exclusions in the policy.

You must understand what is covered and what isn't. If you're not sure, ask your insurance agent or company. It’s also imperative to understand the amount of coverage provided and the deductible required for water and flood damage. Deductibles for floods are frequently different than amounts listed for other types of damage or loss. If your home is in a flood-prone area, you may have trouble finding affordable flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may be able to help.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

People often get in the habit of thinking they don’t need flood insurance, especially if they live in an area where flooding is unlikely. They also tend to believe flood may not impact them when their home sits at the top of a hill or is built up several feet off the ground. You may go a lifetime and never experience flood damage. However, any home can flood during extreme weather events. The good news is that flood insurance is typically easy to shop for and purchase. The less likely a house is to flood, the easier and less costly a flood insurance policy will be.

Is Flood Insurance Affordable?

It all depends on the location of the property. Since homeowners typically have to keep a flood insurance policy in force until the mortgage is paid off, it’s imperative to learn whether or not the house sits in a flood plain before putting an offer on it. If the home is in an area prone to flooding, you will want to consider the cost of flood insurance before buying the home.

Water & Flood Damage Restoration

It is crucial to choose an experienced restoration company with certification in water damage restoration. Total Restoration of Texas provides five-star water damage restoration and drying services in Austin and Central Texas. We are sure to check in walls, crawl spaces, and places where water damage can hide for weeks or months it is noticed. As far as the flood restoration process is concerned, the process isn’t different from water damage restoration. The difference here is that unless the homeowner has flood insurance, they may be working out of pocket to pay for repairs.

Time Frame for Water Damage Repair and Restoration

Even when water damage is significant, it's possible to get you back to normal in a relatively short amount of time. Once the damage has occurred, contact a reputable water damage restoration company that will work directly with your insurance company. The sooner you contact a restoration company, the less likely additional damage will be significant.

No one likes the idea of having their home damaged, especially if the damage is severe enough to warrant living elsewhere until repairs are completed. That being said, having the right insurance can provide peace of mind, knowing that when damage occurs, you are covered.

Total Restoration of Texas can be at most Austin-area locations in under 1-hour. We have emergency service available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

Water damage? Let us handle the mess.

Drop us a line today or call for a quote!

We restore flood-damaged homes and offices in these Austin-area communities:

  • Austin
  • Bee Cave
  • Buda
  • Cedar Park
  • Georgetown
  • Kyle
  • Lakeway
  • Leander
  • Lockhart
  • New Braunfels
  • Pflugerville
  • Rollingwood
  • Round Rock
  • San Marcos
  • Sunset Valley
  • West Lake Hills