Water damage to a home or business can happen in many different ways, from burst pipes to hurricane aftermath. While people rely on insurance coverage to make repairs, many are shocked to discover that flood damage from a storm is not covered due to exclusions in their policies. Attorney Bill Voss explores when flooding due to wind-driven rain may and may not be covered, and how to get the full amount of coverage you paid for.
Flood Insurance Often Excludes Damage from Wind-Driven Rain
Wind-driven rain is an insurance term used to describe any rain that is propelled into a covered property by the wind. Policies that cover storm damage often cover damage done by rain and damage done by wind separately. However, the two are likely to combine during a storm, making it difficult to tell when a wind-driven rain exclusion may apply. In most cases, wind-driven rain will not enter a structure unless there is a fault or defect that allows the rain to enter.
Wind-driven rain exclusions may be included in many different policies, including:
- Home insurance. From an insurer’s perspective, the insurance company is not liable for damages to the property that are caused by disrepair. If your home flooded during a storm because tiles on the roof were missing, the insurer’s position is that the condition of the roof was to blame for the damage, not the storm.
- Commercial insurance. In theory, commercial policies that exclude wind-driven rain are giving owners an incentive to keep their properties in good condition. However, they can just as likely be used to deny legitimate claims. Paying for maximum coverage entitles the policyholder to maximum protection, and commercial holders should challenge denials for any peril that isn’t expressly excluded.
- National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Private insurers are not the only ones who deny coverage based on wind-driven rain. Policies offered through the NFIP state that any rain that enters through “a wind-damaged window or door, or comes through a hole in a wall or roof, the NFIP considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.”
What to Do If You Are Denied Coverage Due to Wind-Driven Rain
It is possible to dispute a claim that is denied because of wind-driven rain. In some cases, an insurer may claim that rain is “wind-driven” as a negotiation tactic to drive down the value of the claim. Some insurers will not hesitate to deny claims first, only paying out when a policyholder challenges the denial.
If your storm damage claim was denied, you can begin to dispute the decision by:
- Finding the exclusion. Wind-driven rain should be clearly defined and outlined in your insurance policy if the company is going to exclude coverage for it. Claims based on ambiguous language in the policy tend to favor policyholders, so the lack of a clear definition or exclusion will be to your benefit.
- Reading the policy in full. It is not unusual for policies to exclude wind-driven rain while still providing coverage for both wind and rain. For example, if wind from a storm tore tiles off the roof and allowed rain from the same storm to enter the structure, the damage was all caused by the same event.
- Hire an inspector. Insurers need proof that the structure was defective in order to base a denial on the defect. If you are positive that your structure had been properly maintained before the storm, it may be worth it to hire your own inspector for a second opinion.
- Consult an attorney. If your insurance company is refusing to honor the claim, you may need to involve an insurance attorney to fight on your behalf. A good attorney can not only get your claim approved, he or she can also maximize your coverage by hundreds or thousands of dollars.
If you have suffered major losses due to flood damage, we can examine your policies to determine how much you may be owed, getting you maximum payment from your coverage. Fill out the form on this page today to contact the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Top 10 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make When Filing Your Insurance Claim.