What Did Sandy Teach Us About the Flood Exclusion?

What Did Sandy Teach Us about the Flood Exclusion? by Evan Schwartz


Recent storms such as Sandy and Irene have proven that the Northeast is extremely vulnerable to major flooding. They also made many people aware that most homeowners’ and business owners’ insurance policies have something called a flood exclusion.

A flood exclusion means your insurance will not cover damage that was caused primarily by tidal flooding (water from an ocean, bay, or the like spilling over its ordinary containment and causing damage). This exclusion can exist for people both inside and outside “flood areas.”

While tidal waters can cause great damage on its own, there are other elements of nature that can cause equally terrible damage, and usually are covered by your insurance policy, including, but not limited to:

•wind-driven rain;

•falling trees & branches; and


Case Study

My firm resolved a case this year for a homeowner whose entire property—house, detached garage, foundation, etc.—was lost to Superstorm Sandy. Everything was literally swallowed up by the ocean.

With the help of experts, we demonstrated that much of the damage occurred before the tidal waters consumed the property, as a result of many hours of sustained high winds & wind-driven rain. It was challenging, but we successfully secured a very positive result for this client.

It can be confusing and difficult to understand what exactly caused damage during a severe weather event. But sometimes, the analysis is relatively simple. There are several questions that can help identify the cause of the damage, such as:

•Where is the flood line?

•How high did the water rise?

•What’s under the water?

•Was something intact above the water but damaged by something else?

•Was anything other than tidal a possible cause of the property damage?

If you have been affected by severe weather (even if it’s not as extreme as Sandy or Irene), it’s important to understand what exactly produced the damage. Substantial flood damage doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t covered by your insurance policy. Call me to discuss your situation today.


Evan S. Schwartz
Founder of Schwartz, Conroy & Hack