Insurance policies may or may not cover all your damages from a storm like a hurricane. In general, for residential policies, most policies cover damages caused by high winds, such as damaged roofing shingles, broken windows, water entering damaged building components, or damage from toppled trees.
The tricky part comes when your home or business is damaged by water. This is where a forensic architect or engineer can help. Their job is to determine the cause of the damage--floodwaters or rainwater--to aid in settling with insurance companies.
Many insurance policies distinguish between rain and floodwaters as the cause of the water damage. While both can occur from a hurricane, your property may not be covered for both unless your policy explicitly says so.
- Rain may enter the building through damaged roofing or broken windows. Resulting damages are typically covered by standard insurance policies and are not covered by flood insurance policies.
- Floodwaters and the resulting damages are typically excluded from standard coverage. Flood policies cover these damages and do not cover water damage from wind-driven rain.
Hurricanes can damage the building envelope and cause leaks into your property. Wind or debris can damage your roof, walls, and windows, which then allows water inside your property.
Most insurance policies will not cover water damages due to pre-existing conditions; conditions that can be attributed to a lack of maintenance, such as old roof damage, holes in exterior walls, or leaky windows. Some policies do not cover damages from wind-driven rain through existing openings in buildings.
After a storm, insurance companies require proof of the cause of the damage before paying claims. That is where a trained forensic engineer or architect comes into the picture. Their job is to uncover and document the cause of the damage and help owners file damage claims or build a litigation case.
A complete investigation can start before roads have been cleared and utilities restored or years after the storm has hit. A complete forensic investigation should include:
- Site visits to assess the damage and perform inspections
- Documentation review
- Witness interviews
- Studies of weather history
- Analysis and comparison to damage of nearby structures
At CCA, we have been at ground zero after many major hurricanes in the last thirty years to help owners recover and rebuild and carriers pay appropriate settlements. Our engineers, architects, and estimators have been there after a catastrophe and understand the needs of owners, insurers, property managers, contractors, and regulators.
Learn more about how we help owners recover after a hurricane.
The above is a general overview of typical insurance policies related to wind versus flood damage. We advise people more interested in this topic or concerned about their coverages, to contact an insurance professional.