A photo featuring a woman holding a blue bucket that is positioned to catch water that is leaking through her ceiling. She is on the phone with her insurance agency to find out what her coverage is. There is a black and white dog on the left of the photo.

Flooding vs. Water Backup: What’s the Difference and What it Means for Your Coverage


According to the National Weather Service, 2021 was the seventh wettest summer on record. These heavy rains brought with them repeated flooding and devastation. If these events prompted you to reevaluate your flood insurance coverage, you are not alone! In this post we are going to explain the differences between your coverage if water damage was caused by flooding or water backups.

What is a flood?

To begin, we are going to talk about floods. The National Weather Service defines flooding as an overflow of water onto normally dry land. It can either occur due to water building up gradually—or in the case of the flooding of Summer 2021—the flooding can be caused after heavy rainfall in a short period of time.

What is a water backup?

Another common source of water damage comes from water backups. A water backup can occur due to a variety of reasons, but most commonly is caused when a drain, sewer or gutter is blocked, clogged, or old/broken. These factors hinder wastewater’s ability to leave your home safely and causes it to overflow back up the pipes, causing flooding.

What does my insurance cover after a flood?

Did you know that most home insurance does not cover flooding? Flood insurance is usually a separate policy that can cover buildings, the contents in a building, or both. Generally speaking—and this is entirely different based on your specific policy—flood insurance can cover the physical structure and foundation of your home, plumbing and electrical systems, central air and heating systems and attached structures such as cabinets and bookshelves. It may also cover other items such as clothing, furniture, and electronics. A standard homeowners insurance policy generally covers only certain types of water damage if it’s deemed accidental or sudden.

What does my insurance cover after a water backup?

Water backup coverage is also not a default when it comes to homeowners’ insurance. You need to choose to add on this coverage yourself. Water backup insurance will cover damages covered by a sewer or drain and a sump pump, or related equipment, even if the overflow or discharge occurred because of mechanical issues. If your drywall or ceiling become drenched after your water heater bursts or a pipe ruptures, then you will generally be covered.

Your insurance will NOT cover a water backup if it caused by neglect and failure to maintain pipes and it will not cover the replacement costs for your burst pipe or water heater. Water backup insurance also will not cover damage due to flooding.


For more information about our flood and water backup coverage options contact us today!

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Headquartered in Rochester Hills, Mich., Allied Insurance Managers is one of the largest, privately-owned, independent insurance agencies in Michigan.