The homeowners policy is limited when you get water in your basement. Flood insurance, if you have it, will provide some help but is often limited to mechanicals (e.g. heating system). This article will provide some guidance on available coverages as well as what you can do to reduce damage if your basement gets really wet.
Your basement is a concrete box stuck in the ground, often below the water table (especially after a big storm), that is designed to keep water out...but it doesn't always succeed. Water pressure is relentless and often finds its way in, which is why many people who experience wet basements have a sump pump. A good sump pump will extract water from the lowest point in your basement and pump it outside, away from the house. But a sump pump doesn't work without power.
Some homeowners policies have optional limited "sump pump failure" coverage for these circumstances. Since this insurance is subject to adverse selection (meaning only the people who are especially exposed buy it), it is expensive and limited. If you don't have sump pump failure coverage and you get water in your basement, your homeowners insurance will be extremely limited.
How does Flood Insurance from the NFIP handle flooded basements?
In another example of underwriting against adverse selection (and flood insurance is another example of adverse selection where spread of risk is absent and risk cost is concentrated), NFIP policies do not provide insurance against any property below grade level except for mechanical systems like your heat. And if your mechanical systems are indeed in your basement, below grade level, the NFIP will charge for this.
What can a homeowner do, absent of insurance?
Extracting the water from your basement should be your first priority
- A wet vac (wet vacuum), available at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and other big box stores, is a good household item able to safely extract water. Wet vac what you can and open basement doors and windows to let the high humidity air escape.
- Put anything wooden on palettes, blocks of wood or concrete pads to prevent water from seeping into furniture or other property.
- Professional remediation contractors have banks of high capacity fans to get water to evaporate and leave the building quickly. Use any and all fans you have at your disposal once power is restored and turn up your heat to accelerate the process.
Water is the enemy in any location that is subgrade. Fans, wet vacs, squeegies, mops, and/or specialists...use whatever and whomever it takes to get the water up and out.
To discuss your personal homeowners policy with an insurance professional at Gordon Atlantic Insurance call us at (800) 649-3252. Prefer to type instead of talk? Click below.