Tropical Storm Debby has moved out of Florida and into the Atlantic. However, it has left its mark behind, leaving many to pick up the pieces. Living in South Tampa – where the drainage is notoriously bad – I witnessed Debby’s force first hand. In fact, my in-laws suffered severe damage to their dock and had storm surge waters splashing against their house – they were among the fortunate ones.
A slow moving storm like Debby reminds us that tropical storms not only bring high winds, but they can also bring treacherous amounts of water. This was especially true in places like Tampa and Jacksonville where flooding was rampant.
Debby should also remind us that after tropical storms move through an area and homeowners begin to make insurance claims to help them put their homes back together, insurance companies will differentiate between flood damage and wind damage. Nearly all standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover loss caused by flood.
In fact, most may remember this exact situation occurring after Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana, Mississippi and other coastal states. Unless you have some solid proof that wind actually caused the damage before the water got there, the insurance company is likely to deny much of the damage for lack of coverage. And courts may uphold such decisions due to the language in many policies excluding flood damage or even damage from “standing water,” as the courts did in Florida Residential Property & Casualty Joint Underwriting Association v. Kron, 721 So. 2d 825, (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). This can have disastrous effects on a homeowner, further exacerbating an already devastating situation.
One of the best ways to avoid this outcome is to buy flood insurance to fill in the “gap” in coverage found in most standard homeowners and commercial lines policies. Of course, you could invest in a camera like the one previously mentioned by Nicole Vinson in her blog post, Was the Damage Caused by Flood?
My parents always told me, “It’s better to be safe, than sorry.” Spending some money now to ensure you have proper coverage can save not only large expenses later, but also many headaches that aren’t worth dealing with after a disaster strikes.