Pa. Commissioner Reminds Homeowners to Check Policies for Weather-Related Coverage

Following above-normal precipitation from last fall, and with potential heavy rain from spring thunderstorms, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken reminded consumers of the
importance of understanding what water and flood damage is covered under their homeowners insurance policies.

“Each year at this time, we’re anxious to say goodbye to winter storms and welcome the warmer climate of spring,” Koken said. “But with spring flowers come spring showers. Policyholders need to be aware of what is and is not covered in their insurance policies, in case they have damage from a weather-related incident.

“Pennsylvanians are not required to buy homeowners insurance, although mortgage lenders may require it as a condition of sale. There are five basic types of homeowner policies with very specific coverages and exclusions. It’s important that people understand the terms of their homeowners insurance policy.”

A reported common “unknown” surrounding homeowners insurance is what is and is not covered in terms of water damage. For instance, water damage due to a windstorm – such as rain water either blowing into your home through an open window or rain water entering the home if the roof is blown off during a storm – is generally covered through homeowners insurance. What’s not covered, however, is damage caused by flooding.

Damage from flooding is excluded in all homeowner policies, and must be purchased separately from the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance is available to throughout Pennsylvania in communities that participate in the NFIP.

Flood insurance policies insure against damages that result from:

* The partial or complete flooding of normally dry land from the overflow of inland or tidal waters.

* Unusual and rapid accumulation of runoff of surface waters from any source.

* Mud slides or mudflows that are caused by flood.

* The collapse or destabilization of land along the shore of a lake or
other body of water, resulting from erosion, waves or water currents
exceeding normal cyclical levels.

* Sewer backup, but only if it is caused directly by flooding.

“Flood insurance can be purchased for any insurable property, including rental property and condominiums, even if it is not directly in a flood plain,” Koken said. “It’s important to remember that there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect, so consumers need to act now to protect themselves from this risk before it is too late.”

For more information on homeowners or flood insurance, or what to do when a weather-related disaster strikes, consumers can log onto the Insurance Department’s Web site at and click on the Brochures
and Topics Section on the left side of the page.