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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How Does “Act of God” Flood Damage Affect Insurance Coverage?

7/16/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian helps customers understand the term “act of God” and how the “act of God” classification could affect flood damage recovery.

The technicians at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian have the training, experience, equipment, cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved products to handle a storm damage and flood damage restoration project. Locally owned and operated, the team of IICRC-certified professionals can arrive on the scene in about an hour to inspect and assess the damage. An estimate with detailed documentation needed for the insurance claims process is provided to the customer. The cleanup and restoration process begins immediately because any delays allow for advanced secondary damage. A rapid response enables many items, such as carpeting and rugs, to be salvaged rather than discarded. Removing the water and dehumidifying the damaged areas deal with mold before it can gain a foothold. Technicians clean, disinfect, sanitize, and deodorize the flood-damaged home.

A Confusing Insurance Term

In the insurance industry, the term “act of god” can be a source of confusion and frustration for current policyholders and homeowners seeking adequate storm damage and flood damage insurance. The odd term generates a flood of inquiries to insurance agents and insurance claim attorneys because of the confusion surrounding the concept. People ask questions such as:

  • What are the factors surrounding a flood that result in the disaster being treated differently than other natural disasters?
  • Why is not every natural disaster referred to as an “act of God?”
  • Why are some events “acts of God” while others are not?

A formal, legal definition of “act of God” is as follows: “…an overwhelming event caused exclusively by natural forces whose effects could not possibly be prevented (e.g., flood, earthquake, tornado).  In modern jurisdictions, ‘act of God’ is often broadened by statute to include all natural phenomena whose effects could not be prevented by the exercise of reasonable care and foresight.”

Within the insurance industry, an “act of God” involves several factors:

  • The event is unpreventable and destructive.
  • Natural causes alone account for the event.

Within these parameters, many floods, other severe weather events, and natural disasters may technically be regarded as an “act of God.”

Insurance Coverage and “Acts of God”

Not every unpreventable and destructive event qualifies as an “act of God.” Every “act of God” may not be covered by every insurance policy. Some caveats and exceptions apply. “Act of God” coverage offered by a specific insurance company depends on what is outlined in detail in a specific insurance policy. The solution to avoid any confusion is to read the policy carefully. Look for the exact phrase “act of God.” Seek to fully understand how the term “act of God” is used in the policy. Upon gaining a comfortable understanding of what is contained in the policy, consult the agent issuing the policy to ensure that a proper understanding has been achieved. Do not be overwhelmed by the legal terminology. A competent agent can bring clarity to the situation.

Events Often Not Covered in Standard Policies

Standard home insurance or business insurance policies do not cover flooding. When seeking to obtain a suitable home policy or a business policy, be sure to ask two crucial questions:

  • Is flooding covered under this policy?
  • If some types of flooding are covered under the policy, which types of flood damage are and are not covered by the policy?

Be able to accurately identify any and every exclusion in the policy. A misstep in this area could cost a homeowner or business tens of thousands of dollars in losses. By understanding exclusions in a general policy, the homeowner or business owner can add riders to the policy to ensure proper coverage. A homeowner residing in an area with a history of flooding may need to purchase flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program.

When Is a Flood Not an “Act of God?”

By definition, an “act of God” is an unpredictable event. If a flood has occurred near the home or business or if the structure has been damaged by a flood in the past, flooding may not be considered an “act of God” under the policy. If a flood occurs, it is not technically an “act of God” since there was a prior history of flooding. For example, if the structure is located near a river or in a valley that has suffered a flood in the past, a flood event may not be technically identified as an “act of God.” Do not be one of those homeowners or businesses who is shocked to learn that the flood damage disaster was not covered by the existing policy. Consult with an insurance agent or an attorney for clarification.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian has been serving the local area since 2000. Being centrally located in Ellis County means they are within a thirty-minute drive or less of any location in the community. The team of restoration experts specializes in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

For more information about flood and storm damage cleanup, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com

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