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Never Call Your Water Loss a Flood

Not every loss caused by water is a flood, although insureds often refer to water disasters such as a leaking pipe as a "flood." It is important to distinguish between a water loss and a flood because the coverage for these two events is completely different.

Water damage claims are covered by traditional homeowner insurance policies, subject to a myriad of exceptions. Flood claims are covered exclusively by insurance policies issued through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) based on the National Flood Insurance Act.

Flood claims present unique challenges:

  • Federal law (not state law) controls flood claims.
  • Flood claimants must file a proof of loss within 60 days of the loss regardless of the circumstances.
  • The only way to extend the proof of loss deadline is with express written consent as established by FEMA's guidelines.
  • A proof of loss that does not set forth the amount of money being claimed is insufficient.
  • Flood claims are subject to a one-year suit-filing requirement.
  • Flood claimants cannot recover for bad faith, lost interest, or attorney fees.

Most insureds do not have flood insurance. If they do, and a flood occurs, insureds need to act quickly in order to protect their rights. Knowledgeable assistance can help an insured comply with FEMA's rigorous and inflexible requirements.


FEMA flood claims have strict guidelines and require quick action to preserve policyholder rights. If you need help with your FEMA insurance claim you can trust the legal team of Rutter & Russin. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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