According to the National Flood Insurance Program, all 50 states have experienced some type of flooding, and all homes and businesses are susceptible to damage. Since flood damage is not typically included in a standard homeowners insurance policy, homeowners are instead required to obtain a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Even if you are not located in a flood prone area, flooding can happen to anyone at any time. From 2014 to 2018 alone, 40 percent of NFIP flood insurance claims were filed for properties outside of a high-risk flood zone.
Flooding can be caused by heavy rain, melting snow, spring thaws, tropical storms, hurricanes, and other types of natural disasters. In fact, 90% of all U.S. natural disasters involve some sort of flooding component, making floods the number one natural disaster in the United States. For the past four years, hurricanes have caused above-average flooding – particularly with Hurricane Harvey’s impact in the Houston Metro area.
Houston, Texas Flood Damage Law
Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage to your home, according to the NFIP’s official website. Homeowners’ flood insurance may cover a wide variety of damages, including but not limited to:
Flood waters exert an enormous amount of pressure, which can cause tremendous structural damage to a home. Both the foundation and the overall structure of a house can become compromised due to the force of the water pressure. Water can seep through solid concrete slabs, flow through cracks and holes, and strain the wood framing and any metal connectors inside the walls.
Because water also ebbs and flows, moving water can become another threat to a home’s structural integrity. Flood water moving at a speed of 10 miles per hour exerts the same pressure as a wind gust of 270 miles per hour.
Plumbing and Electrical Systems
Flood waters generally contain a fair amount of debris and sediment, which can infiltrate the plumbing systems in a home if flooding rose above the drainage pipes, leading to clogs and damaged pipes. If flood waters were stagnant for a period of time, the weight of the water combined with the soil and sediment could crush underground lines.
As water conducts electricity, any electrical component exposed to water for even a brief amount of time must be replaced – only after the home is inspected by a qualified electrician to determine the safety of the home’s electrical system.
Large Electrical Appliances
Many of a home’s major appliances are located on the ground floor or even in a basement. If a refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and/or water heater is compromised by flood waters, they will need to be replaced. The same is true for central air conditioning and heating systems.
Mold and Mildew
Mold can begin growing within just 24 to 48 hours of a flood, and it will continue to grow until the source of the moisture is eliminated. Mold and mildew can grow on wood, drywall, carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, clothing, food, and more. In addition to damaging your home, mold can cause mild to severe health problems, such as irritation of the eyes or skin, respiratory problems, and sinus congestion, among others.
Flood Insurance Claims
When flood damage does happen, it usually impacts an entire neighborhood, city, or even county. In these cases, insurance companies tend to minimize the damage in order to pay out as little as possible per flood. Even though the National Flood Insurance Program is funded through FEMA, it is often sold and brokered through private insurance companies as part of the Write-Your-Own (WYO) program, which was launched in 1983.
The program was launched to outsource overhead costs associated with FEMA administering and paying out claims to policyholders. This arrangement is typically quite lucrative for private insurers because they collect costs and fees for administering claims, while FEMA foots the bill. However, it can lead to delays, denials, and underpayments of flood insurance claims – usually at a time when homeowners need the money most.
Houston Flood Damage Attorneys
Our law firm is more than experienced in dealing with flood damaged properties and the companies that insure them. Our focus is to see that all damage is repaired and that all clients receive the funds to which they are entitled under their policy. If your property was damaged in a flood, contact Dax F. Garza, P.C. as soon as possible to discuss your case at no charge.