Insurance on most California homes doesn't cover flooding, mudslides

Carlos Granda Image
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Flooding, mudslides not covered by regular homeowners insurance
Less than 2% of the properties in California are covered by flood insurance.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The torrential rain brought mudslides. Rocks and boulders damaged homes and property.

The first thing you think of is calling your insurance but then you get hit with more bad news:

"Standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding," says Janet Ruiz from the Insurance Information Institute.

For this type of damage you need a separate flood insurance policy. It's a necessity for people in states such as Florida where flooding is a major issue, but Californians worry more about earthquakes and fires.

"When water comes from the ground up that's considered flooding and usually it's water mixed with mud and debris flowing through your house," says Ruiz.

The latest FEMA data shows only about 191,000 properties in the state are covered by FEMA flood insurance policies. That's only about 1.52%.

For all of LA County, the most populous in the country with 10 million people, there are only 14,580 policies.

Omar Ochoa, an attorney and storm insurance expert, says "There is only so much that you can be covered for. For homes, it's up to $250,000 in total coverage, for businesses it's $500,000 total coverage. It might not be enough to cover all of the damages in a disaster zone but it is coverage that's available for you."

Vehicles that were damaged by the mud and water could be covered by your auto insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage.

If you have damage to your home and you don't have flood insurance you could get help from FEMA if your area is designated a federal disaster zone.

"We recommend that if you have damage, take pictures of it, so that you can either turn that in if you do have flood insurance or if you decide to go to FEMA if it becomes a federal disaster," says Ruiz.

If you want to get flood insurance now you have to remember there is a 30-day waiting period from the day you sign up before coverage starts.