The word “flood” is a common part of our vocabulary. We may use it to describe not only an overflow of water, but also a metaphorical situation in which we feel overwhelmed. 

For insurance purposes, it’s important to understand how meteorologists and insurers think about floods. When you see floods from this perspective, you are better equipped to understand risk assessments, make plans, and choose the insurance coverage you need.


What is a Flood?

We live on a watery planet. Water covers most of the planet’s surface in the form of oceans. Even on land, water appears in the form of rivers, swamps, lakes, and other bodies. When is water just water – and when is it a flood?

A flood occurs when water covers land that is normally dry. The river running through a small town is not a flood when it stays inside its banks. When that river overruns its banks and enters the streets or the basements of local homes and businesses, however, a flood occurs. 


Types of Floods


The National Severe Storms Laboratory categorizes floods into five types:


River Flood: River floods occur when a river, creek, or stream overflows its banks. River floods may happen gradually or suddenly. 

Coastal Flood: Coastal floods occur near the coast, when land is filled with seawater. Cyclones, tsunamis, and unusually high tides can all cause or worsen coastal flooding. 

Storm Surge: A storm surge is a higher-than-usual tide on the coast, caused by stormy weather. Storm surge also typically involves seawater.

Inland Flooding: Inland flooding occurs away from the coasts, usually in urban areas. Heavy rains are the most common cause of inland flooding. Blocked waterways may also cause inland floods.

Flash Flood: A flash flood occurs within six hours of heavy rainfall. Many flash floods occur even more quickly – within three hours. 



Understanding Flood Risks

Knowing which floods are most likely to affect your property can help you choose the right insurance coverage and mitigate flood risks. If you are inland, for instance, the unique problems caused by a seawater flood may be of little concern – but the risk of a river flood or a flash flood may be higher. 



Need help finding flood coverage or assessing flood risk?

Reach out to Odell Studner today. We offer professional risk assessment and risk management services, so you can focus on reaching your business goals. Contact us today to learn more.