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Spring thaws take place in late February through early April; tornado season begins April 1; and hurricane and wildfire season begin on June 1. That makes late spring and early summer “disaster season,” for lack of a better term. Tornados and wildfires, however, do not cause the coverage issues that spring floods and hurricanes do. With water, flood becomes the issue.

No matter how many advertisements FEMA runs or how much advice agents provide, there are always people running uninsured because they opted out of purchasing flood insurance. For those who did purchase flood insurance, as in any insurance policy, certain parameters must be met in order for coverage to apply. Let’s look at some of those parameters.

Aside from defining “you” and “your” as most insurance policies do, the flood policy first defines “flood.” It is easy for people to think that water in the basement and around the house constitutes a flood; however, there are specific parameters that must be met. A flood is defined as a temporary condition where two or more acres or two or more properties are partially or completely inundated by overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mudflow.

This means that while an insured who surveys water in the yard and the basement may believe that his property has been “flooded,” an accurate diagnosis to determine coverage applicability relies on other factors. According to the flood policy, the aforementioned insured has not experienced flooding unless the neighbor’s property is inundated at least partially as well. Thus, the insured may well be uninsured because his property is not technically flooded as defined in the flood policy, as well as because water is excluded in the homeowners’ form. Homeowners’ insurance exclusions include flood, surface water, waves, tides, tidal water, and other sources.

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