If your home suffers water damage in an event like a hurricane, how the water got there may seem unimportant. But if you have a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP), that detail could determine whether your losses are covered. 

An SFIP only covers direct physical loss from flooding to the insured property. In a storm like Hurricane Laura, which was the 10th-strongest U.S. hurricane landfall on record by windspeed when it hit Louisiana in August, homes were damaged by not only the storm surge but by winds that downed trees, ripped roofs from homes, and caused other damage that could allow water into homes. 

Water damage from the flooding caused by Hurricane Laura would be covered by an SFIP, but water damage caused by wind—a damaged roof allowing rain into a home—would not be covered.

Flood insurance adjusters will look for general conditions of flooding and the flood water line when inspecting a damaged home. Below the flood water line, damage is typically considered to be from flooding. Damage above the flood water line—water-stained ceilings or water damage at broken windows or exterior doors, missing shingles, turbine or fascia damage—is typically considered to be from wind.

If it’s difficult to tell how the water damage was caused, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may request an expert to inspect the property. Policyholders can also file an appeal if they’re unhappy with the amount of the claim or receive a denial letter. 

You can learn more about your options as a policyholder at floodsmart.gov.