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:
Let’s get started with this post.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Rain Damage?
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:
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:
Here’s how you’re covered in each of these sections and how much coverage you have.
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
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:
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 FloodSmart.gov 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
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:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.