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Does renters insurance cover flood damage?
No, renters insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. Your provider won’t pay to replace items destroyed by flooding or provide loss-of-use coverage if a flood forces you to stay in a hotel.
However, when insurers refer to “floods,” they mean something very specific. You might call something a flood that your provider would not, which is why there’s often confusion about this issue.
What do insurers mean by “flood”?
When insurers say that floods aren’t covered by renters insurance, they’re referring to external floods — in other words, floods that originate outside the home.
As a rule, if you look outside and the ground is underwater, you’re dealing with an external flood.
External floods are usually (but not always) caused by extreme weather. Common causes include:
- Melting ice or snow
- Overflowing rivers
- Burst dams or levees
External floods are never covered by standard renters insurance policies.
Water from internal sources isn’t considered flooding
Insurers don’t consider water that came from a source inside your apartment to be a “flood,” no matter how much of it there is.
For instance, if a pipe explodes in your basement, completely filling it with water, you might say “my basement flooded” — but that wouldn’t be a flood according to your insurer.
Most internal sources of water damage, like faulty pipes and broken appliances, are covered by renters insurance. However, sewage and drain backups usually aren’t covered; to get protection against them, you need to buy additional insurance (referred to as an endorsement or rider).
Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage?
Renters insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by hurricane-related flooding. However, damage caused by lightning or the wind is covered.
How can I get flood insurance as a renter?
To get flood insurance as a renter, you either need to add a flood endorsement onto your renters insurance plan or purchase a separate flood insurance plan.
Buying a flood endorsement
Some insurers allow you to add a flood endorsement onto your renters insurance policy. However, this is relatively uncommon, and the insurers that offer this endorsement usually don’t publicize it online.
If you’re interested in buying a flood endorsement, try calling your provider and asking if they offer one. If they don’t, you should look into getting a separate flood insurance policy.
Buying flood insurance
Many insurers offer flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is a government program that works with insurers to provide coverage from floods. NFIP insurance plans offer up to $250,000 of coverage.
How do I buy flood insurance through the NFIP?
The NFIP makes buying flood insurance very simple. NFIP plans are standardized, so your premiums and coverage will depend entirely on where your home is, and won’t vary based on which insurer you choose. (Unsurprisingly, your premiums will be higher if you live in a flood-prone state, like Florida.)
To get insured, call up your provider and ask if they offer flood insurance through the NFIP. If they don’t offer flood insurance, you can also call the NFIP Referral Call Center at (888) 379-9531 and ask them to refer you to an insurer that does offer coverage in your area.