Does renters insurance cover flood damage?

If you live near the coast, or in an area that’s particularly vulnerable to heavy rainfall, you may be wondering…

Does renters insurance cover flood damage?

The short answer is no. Flood damage is not covered by most traditional insurance policies, but that doesn’t mean you’re entirely out of luck when it comes to water damage.

Insurance companies have a very specific definition of “flooding,” one that’s likely very different from yours. After all, you probably don’t care if it’s a burst pipe or a heavy rainfall that’s left your living room under an inch of water. To you, the impact is the same—there’s an inch of water where it shouldn’t be, and your things are soaked. But to your insurer, those are two entirely different situations—and while one is covered, one isn’t. (Learn more about what renters insurance doesn’t cover—and what it does.)

Confused? Let’s break it down.

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First, what counts as a flood?

To your insurance company, “flooding” includes an overflow of a body of water or tidal waves. It also includes surface water runoff and water seepage, situations where water collects so quickly that it can’t be absorbed by the ground or your municipality’s drainage system—and ends up in your home instead.

To protect against water damage due to backups of sewers or drains, most insurance providers allow you to purchase extra coverage you can add to your plan.

Generally, if water makes its way into your place due to a storm, the resulting damage isn’t covered. Note: There are some exceptions to this, which we dig into below. (To learn more about flooding in the context of a specific kind of storm—a hurricane—check out “Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage?”)

As with anything insurance-related, the specifics of a situation matter, and there are some key exceptions.

What are the exceptions?

Water damage that is the result of a covered incident.

Let’s say the wind rips off part of your roof during a storm, allowing rain to pour straight into your bedroom. In that instance, you’d likely be covered for the resulting water damage. Why? Your insurance company will look at the root cause of your damage—in this case, the wind-blown hole in your roof. Wind damage is covered by most basic renters insurance, so you should be all set. That said, if the same storm also causes water to seep into your basement, the resulting damage wouldn’t be covered. Remember, water seepage is considered flooding, and flooding isn’t covered.

Or, let’s say a pipe bursts in your apartment, soaking your couch, rug, and wardrobe. Renters insurance would cover you in that case, because water damage from a burst pipe is a covered peril.

A covered incident that occurs as a result of a flood.

Sometimes, flooding leads to damage that is covered by renters insurance. For example, if flood waters spark an electrical fire in your home, it’s likely that your insurance will pay for fire-related damages, because fire is covered by even the most basic renters insurance.

Items covered by Jetty Power-Ups.

If you have Jetty Renters Insurance and purchased a Portable Electronics Power-Up or Personal Valuables Power-Up (extra coverage for specific high-value items, like your laptop or engagement ring), those items will be covered in the event of flood damage.

Why isn’t flooding covered?

Floods happen more often than any other damage-causing event, and they tend to be isolated to very specific areas. That’s why the answer to the question, “Does renters insurance cover flood damage?” is typically no. If you live in a flood zone (find out here), and are interested in purchasing flood insurance, take a look at the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers flood insurance through the government and third-party providers.