May 19, 2022


Trees under heavy rain and strong wind

Trees under heavy rain and strong wind

For every 1℉ temperature increase, Earth’s atmosphere can hold around 4% more moisture, resulting in more intense and recurring heavy rain events. 

According to Climate Central, 2021 was “a record-breaking year for extreme rainfall” in much of the U.S. Of the 246 locations analyzed, 178 experienced an increase in rainfall on their wettest day since 1950. On October 24th, 2021, Sacramento had a record-setting 5.4 inches of rain, nearly half the amount of the city’s year-to-date rainfall. 

A little rain here and there isn’t bad, but when you’re dealing with heavy rainstorms that go on for days, it could cause long-term rain damage to your home. As climate change continues to rev up our weather cycles, storms will worsen, and water damage will become more of a problem. 

Your homeowners insurance policy can cover water damage from rain, but only under certain conditions. 

In this post, I will discuss:

  • When your homeowners insurance policy will cover rain damage (and when it won’t)
  • How homeowners insurance covers water damage
  • When you should also consider getting flood insurance
  • How to tell if your home is easily floodable
  • What to do if you have a leaking roof or other water leakages
  • How to make an insurance claim for water damage from rain
  • What to do if the damage isn’t insurable
  • How to prepare for potential water damage

Let’s get started with this post.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Rain Damage?

Heavy rain over the house roof

Heavy rain over the house roof

Your standard homeowners insurance policy covers rain damage when a covered peril causes the damage. For example, if a hurricane rips off a tree limb, which then crashes through your bedroom window, you’ll be covered for the rain damage to your bedroom and its contents. If that tree limb crashes through your roof instead, you’ll be covered for the rain damage and roof replacement

Here are a few other instances where your homeowners insurance policy will cover rain damage:

  • If wind-driven rain damages your home during a wind or thunderstorm
  • Sudden and accidental roof leaks caused by heavy storms, blizzards, or hail
  • If your roof leaks or collapses due to the weight of snow, ice, or rain
  • Mold damage that’s also associated with a covered peril, like the ones mentioned above

Water Damage And Vandalism

You are also covered for rain damage if your home is vandalized while you’re away. For example, if you’re vacationing in Mexico for a week and come home to broken doors or windows and it’s rained since then, your homeowners insurance will help pay for the water damage caused to your home’s structure and any damaged or destroyed personal belongings. 

However, if you’re gone for the entire summer, and your home is vandalized while vacant, your homeowners insurance policy may not cover it. Typically, insurance companies only offer coverage when you or a renter continuously live in the dwelling. If it’s left vacant for 30 or 60 days (the time period varies depending on your insurance provider), you should get a vacant home endorsement to ensure your home is protected.

How Homeowners Insurance Covers Rain Damage

When it comes to coverage, you are protected in every aspect of your standard homeowners policy, including:

  • Dwelling coverage
  • Other structures coverage
  • Personal property coverage
  • Personal liability coverage
  • Adjusted living expenses

Here’s how you’re covered in each of these sections and how much coverage you have.

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage helps pay for damages caused to the structure of your home. If a blizzard coats your roof with so much snow that water seeps through, this coverage will help pay for the repairs.

Dwelling coverage usually covers the total amount it will cost to repair your home when you purchased your policy, minus your deductible. If you have $250,000 in coverage, a $1,000 deductible, and $5,000 in damage, your homeowners insurance will pay for $4,000 (the cost of repairs minus your deductible).

Other Structures Coverage

If you have structures on your property that are not attached to your home, like a fence or detached garage, they’re covered by other structures coverage. If a tree limb falls through your shed, other structures coverage will help pay for repairs. 

Other structures coverage is typically 10% of dwelling coverage, so if you have $250,000 in coverage, you probably have $25,000 in other structures coverage. Read through your policy to know for sure.

Personal Property Coverage

If your home is vandalized, and then wind-driven rain destroys your artwork and living room furniture, you’re protected with personal property coverage. 

In general, your personal property coverage is either 50% to 70% of your dwelling coverage or a set amount that you’ve decided to purchase (typically $100,000, $300,000, or $500,000, depending on the value of your personal belongings). 

While dwelling coverage can help you pay for the total amount of replacement costs, your personal property coverage likely has limitations and sub-limits. For example, you might have $100,000 in general personal property coverage but only $1,500 for artwork. If rain damage destroys a piece of art valued at $4,000, you’re only covered for the first $1,500. 

Comb through your policy to see where you have coverage limitations. You may want to purchase additional coverage to ensure you’re protected in certain situations.

Personal Liability Coverage

Personal liability coverage protects you from lawsuits if someone not covered under your policy is injured or has personal belongings stolen while on your property. This coverage can also protect you from property damage you, your kids, or your pets cause to someone else’s property. 

Regarding rain damage, if a house guest is injured in your home during a hurricane, personal liability coverage can help pay for their injuries and any legal fees you might incur. 

Your homeowners insurance policy typically provides around $100,000 in personal liability coverage, but that amount can vary.

Adjusted Living Expenses

Hurricanes, thunderstorms, and other natural disasters can make your home uninhabitable. If your entire home (or a significant portion of it) is damaged or destroyed, you’ll have to relocate elsewhere. Luckily, if a covered hazard causes your rain damage, you’ll get reimbursed for your adjusted living expenses. These expenses typically include hotel stays, laundry bills, restaurant meals, and groceries.

When Your Standard Homeowners Insurance Policy Doesn’t Cover Rain Damage

Woman drinking coffee while looking out window

Woman drinking coffee while looking out window

Homeowners insurance companies will not cover rain damage in the following situations:

  • The water damage is caused by neglect. If you have a leaking roof and neglect to fix it, your homeowner insurance company won’t pay for repairs. Also, if you decide to leave your bedroom window open during a heavy storm and rainwater damages your furniture and belongings, insurance won’t cover it. That would also be considered neglect.
  • Your home is already damaged. Similar to the above, if your home is already deteriorating and an average rainstorm finally causes part of your roof to collapse, your home insurance company won’t pay for it.
  • The water damage is gradual. You’re mainly covered in instances considered “sudden and accidental.” If your home’s foundation is experiencing water damage due to continuous rainfalls for months or years, your insurance company won’t pay for repairs. 
  • Water damage causes your home to flood. Homeowners insurance companies don’t include flood protection in their policies. You’ll need to purchase flood insurance instead. 

When You Should Purchase Flood Insurance

With climate change supercharging our rainstorms, purchasing a separate flood insurance policy is more important than ever. You can buy a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

An NFIP policy can cover flood damage for all the following:

  • Your home’s foundation and structure
  • Electrical systems and plumbing
  • Cabinets, wall paneling, and other home fixtures
  • Carpets, curtains, and blinds
  • Kitchen and laundry room appliances
  • Personal belongings not kept in your basement

NFIP policies don’t usually cover additional living expenses, vehicles, or structures outside your home. If you’re running an at-home business, it won’t cover any loss of revenue. 

Read through your NFIP policy to fully understand when you’re protected and when you aren’t. 

Flood insurance policy costs vary greatly based on where you live, the type and size of your home, and numerous other factors. On average, flood insurance costs around $985/yr.

How To Tell If Your Home Is Easily Floodable

About one-fourth of flood insurance claims are for homes that aren’t in what FEMA considers a high-risk flood zone. Even if you live somewhere with low or moderate flood risk, in the next 30 years, your home is five times more likely to experience flooding than a fire!

Each state also has different flood disclosure laws. In some states, sellers aren’t required to mention if their property has experienced flooding or water leakage. When you’re undergoing your home-buying journey, I recommend doing your own research before starting the closing process. Check out or FEMA’s Map Service Center to discover your home’s flood risk. 

If your home is in a high-risk flood zone, you’ll likely be required to get flood insurance. Even if that’s not a requirement, you should purchase flood coverage anyway.

What To Do If You Have A Roof Leak Or Other Water Damage

Maple leaves over roof

Maple leaves over roof

When you discover a roof leak or other water damage, do the following.

Get Your Belongings Somewhere Dry

If your water-damaged area contains valuables, move them somewhere safe. You don’t want any jewelry, clothing, artwork, or other items damaged. Also, some fabrics are known to trap water and then stink of mildew. The smell takes forever to get rid of, so prevent it when you can.

Grab Some Buckets And Towels

Contain as much water as possible by placing buckets or garbage cans under areas where water is leaking. Also, soak up any puddles with towels, and use tarps to prevent further leakage.

Relieve Water Pressure

Water can collect and cause bulges in your ceiling or walls. While this may seem counterintuitive, you should gently poke a hole in the bulge and place a bucket beneath where the water is collecting. Leaving that bulges alone can lead to water spreading elsewhere and causing more damage. Also, the bulge may eventually break anyway. It’s better to take care of it now rather than letting the water accumulate and break when you’re not around.

Document The Scene

Take photos and videos of the water damage, and write down any information about what your images portray. Documenting the scene will help your insurance company understand the severity of water damage and show them what personal belongings got damaged or destroyed. 

For extra credit, find images of the impacted areas and your personal belongings before the water damage occurred. This will be very helpful when you’re making an insurance claim.

How To Make An Insurance Claim For Water Damage From Rain

You should get your claim started ASAP. Here’s how:

  • Contact your homeowners insurance company and inform them of your home’s water damage and what’s been damaged. Go through your policy with your insurance agent to ensure that you’re covered for what caused the water damage.
  • Document the scene, as I mentioned above. If you have an inventory of your personal belongings and what they’re worth, it will likely help you during the claims process. The more information you have, the better.
  • Prevent your home from further water damage. This includes making any temporary repairs that you can easily do. Keep any receipts you accumulate when purchasing materials to help prevent further water damage.
  • Get the claim paperwork from your insurance company. Fill it out and send it back to get the claims process going.
  • Wait for your insurance company to send an adjuster to investigate the damage. The insurance adjuster will assess what damages are covered in your policy and the cost of repairs.

Insurance claims can take a while, so the faster you act, the quicker you’ll receive your settlement.

What To Do If The Water Damage Is Not Insurable

Houses submerged in the floodwaters

Houses submerged in the floodwaters

Unfortunately, if you don’t have insurance coverage for water damage from rain, there’s not a lot you can do. You can file an appeal with your insurance company, get a second opinion from a contractor, hire an insurance attorney, or even contact your state’s insurance commissioner. However, none of these options can guarantee positive results. 

You can also apply for a FEMA disaster grant. These grants are available for people who live in federally recognized disaster areas and are mainly meant to cover expenses that flood insurance doesn’t. 

Here are a few things that FEMA disaster grants may cover:

  • Temporary housing assistance: If a disaster renders your home uninhabitable, you may receive a grant to pay for the cost of a temporary living arrangement. 
  • Assistance with repairs: You can receive coverage for repairs to your home’s structure, HVAC systems, and water and sewage. Unlike dwelling insurance, this grant doesn’t cover repairs that fully restore your home. The aim is to make it habitable again. 
  • Personal property losses: You may also receive grants to claim losses, like clothing and other valuables. 
  • Additional needs: You may receive coverage for medical, dental, and funeral expenses. 

While FEMA disaster grants can help cover some expenses, you shouldn’t expect that your grant will be accepted. You’re much better off taking preventative measures to maximize the chances of your insurance claim getting accepted.

How To Prepare For Potential Water Damage

Minimize the potential for water damage by taking these preventative measures.

Install A Water Leak Detection System

A water leak detection system can alert you to water leaks early on, so that you can repair them before they cause severe water damage. A water leak detection system can save you a lot of heartaches and help you qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance.

Inspect Your Roof Regularly

Schedule a time once a year to inspect your roof for potential damage. If you’re just experiencing a heavy storm, you should check things out after it’s safe to ensure there isn’t any rainwater entering your home.

Clean Your Gutters

When your gutters are clogging, rainwater is unable to drain correctly. This can lead to rainwater overflow, which can cause water damage to your home.

Inspect Your Sump Pump

Your home has pits beneath its structure that collect water. Your sump pump pumps the water out of the pits and away from your home’s foundation. If it’s not working correctly, the water can accumulate and damage your foundation.

Inspect Your Home For Mold Growth And Moisture

If mold is growing in your home or you notice that the air is moist, you might have a water leak. Regularly inspect areas in your home where mold grows, and moisture collects. These are usually in darker, airy places or your bathroom or laundry room. The faster you notice mold or moisture, the quicker you can repair any water leakage (and get rid of the mold).

Wrap Up

When it comes to buying a house for the first time, knowing the expected costs, timelines and what’s required from all parties will make the home buying process easier for everyone. 

Understanding the details of how an escrow account works and how it fits together with the other steps in the process is key when buying your own property.

Through this article, I hope that you now have a clearer idea of what's involved and that you're that much closer to becoming a homeowner.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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