Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
You notice a sudden wet spot in the ceiling in your home. When you have a plumber come look at it, you learn that you have a burst pipe upstairs. Or maybe you notice a water stain on the top floor and learn that you have a leak in the roof. You know that if you don't take care of it, you may have a flood if there is a rain storm. Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
As a responsible homeowner, you should always act quickly when you notice something unusual. You should also be hypervigilant about taking a look around crawl spaces and other nooks and crannies in your home as a precaution. For one thing, water damage will eventually turn into a mold issue if it isn't taken care of right away. Mold is rarely covered by home insurance.
In this article, you'll learn what type of water damage are covered by homeowners insurance and what charges you may have to put on a credit card.
Water Damage Claim
Water damage is one of the most common types of claims filed by homeowners but not all water damage is covered by a standard home insurance policy. In fact, the rules often stipulate that the water damage must be caused suddenly, not from damage occurring from neglect or lack of maintenance.
What Is Homeowners Insurance Coverage?
Homeowners insurance protects the structure of your house, including your walls, foundation, roof and ceilings. These policies also protect your personal property from perils named within your policy. Dangers like fire, burglary, wind damage, storms and other situations are also covered by homeowners insurance. But does insurance cover water damage?
A standard homeowner's policy doesn't always cover water damage. It depends on the circumstances that caused the water damage. For instance, home insurance policies won't cover water damage caused by flood, sewage backups, neglect and some natural disasters.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage Claims?
Standard home insurance policies cover damage that occurs from a sudden or accidental cause within your house. Flood policies are sold separately.
However, home insurance policies cover some weather-related perils that cause damage to your home under this coverage, including some instances of water damage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, renters and homeowners insurance policies cover situations where water damage comes from the top-down, such as rainfall and burst sprinklers. It also covers burst pipes, damage from ice dams on your roof and wind-driven rain.
Home insurance will cover a water damage claim in the following situations:
A burst pipe – Your homeowners insurance policy will only cover the damages or flood caused by burst pipes when it occurs because of an accident or immediate situation.
An accidental leak – These leaks occur because of a sudden plumbing or appliance leak, like a malfunctioning dishwasher, toilet, or dishwasher.
Water damage following fires – Firefighters use a significant amount of water to battle blazes in homes. A fire protection system may also spray water into a room, causing damage. Your homeowners insurance would cover the resulting issues from a fire.
Issues caused by storms or accidental roof damage – Your homeowners insurance will cover water damage that results from a tree crashing and falling through your roof during a storm.
Heavy rain storm, hail or ice – Your home insurance policy will cover water issues that result from storm damage. So if there is a flood in your basement after torrential rains, you are likely going to be covered for the insurance claim.
The same stipulations exist for a business property
What Are Exclusions in an Insurance Policy?
You'll find information about exclusions in the declaration page of your policy jacket. Your policy will tell you what will and will not be covered as a claim. That is why it's important to review policy terms before you buy anything from an insurer. For instance, mold is often excluded because mold exists from water damage that was neglected. Mold removal may cost quite a bit of money, too.
Which Policies Cover Water Damage?
Two areas of your homeowners insurance policy may cover water damage. These coverage options include:
This policy pays for water damage to your home's structure because of a named peril. For instance, it may cover repairs if one of your pipes bursts because of cold weather. This part of your coverage will pay for damages caused to your drywall or supports.
Personal Property Coverage
This coverage pays for water damage to your things if a peril damages them. For instance, if a burst pipe floods your family room, ruining your sofas, television and shelves, this coverage may help you to replace these items.
Your insurer will only pay for this damage up to the coverage limits. Speak with your local insurance agent to find out how much your policy will cover water damage.
You must meet your deductible before your property coverage will pay for this water damage.
7 Water Damage Claims not Covered by Homeowners Insurance Policies
According to the Insurance Information Institute, most homeowners insurance policies don't cover water damage that occurs from the bottom up. These include flood damage from overflowing rivers.
Here are seven situations that homeowners and renters insurance won't cover water damage.
Maintenance problems that you neglected – Your homeowners insurance won't cover damages that result from negligence. For instance, an insurance policy won't cover any property damages that result from poorly maintained plumbing systems and water heaters.
Failing to repair the source of the water damage – Insurers won't cover repairs for a dishwasher that is constantly leaking. It usually covers the costs to repair your floors.
Flood damage issues from hurricanes, tropical storms and floods – Your homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover flood damage like storm surges from hurricanes or rivers that overflow their banks. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you'll have to purchase a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.
The water causes mold damage and rot – Your standard homeowners policy will not cover issues that occur due to mold damage or rot.
The moisture seeps into your foundation – Insurance carriers won't cover damage caused by water that seeps into your home's foundation.
Poor maintenance causes the water leak and damage – An insurance carrier won't cover damage that results from roof damage caused by poor maintenance.
Damage occurs due to backup from a sump pump failure – Standard homeowners insurance doesn't this type of water damage. If necessary, consider buying sump or water backup coverage.
Water damage resulting from drain or sewer backup – Although some homeowners and renters policies cover sewer and drain backups, most don't provide this coverage. These policies won't cover water damages that result from a clogged sewer or drain.
Water-related damages from earthquakes or mudslides – Your standard home insurance won't provide coverage for floods or mudslides that cause water damage within your home. You'll need to purchase an earthquake policy to cover this damage if you live in a susceptible area.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damages from Leaky Sinks?
Personal property coverage will only pay for damages caused by leaking sinks when the situation arises from a sudden or accidental breach. For instance, if cold weather freezes the water in the pipes connected to your sink, causing them to burst, your renters or homeowners insurance policy may cover the damage.
It won't cover the damage if these issues arose because of poor maintenance issues. For instance, if you don't repair a chronically leaking sink, your homeowners insurance would pay a claim for the damage to your things.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Appliances Damage by Burst Pipes?
Your dwelling coverage may pay for certain types of repairs to your appliances if water leaks from your pipes and accidentally floods a room without warning. For instance, it will pay a claim for damages if a small item becomes jammed in your pipes, causing your washing machine to flood.
If this excess water causes significant damage to your washer and dryer, your dwelling insurance should cover the damages. It may also cover the other damages to cabinetry and property in the wash area.
Your homeowners policy won't cover any damages caused by burst pipes that failed due to neglect rather than an accident. For instance, if you fail to have your septic tank or main sewage line cleaned out (which should be done every few years to prevent damages), you could be left on the hook for these damages.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage to Hardwood Floors?
Yes, but the damage must occur because of sudden or accidental reasons. Again, it depends on the water source and whether you did anything to prevent the damage to your hardwood floors. You'll likely get reimbursed for the water damage to your hardwood floors were because of a broken pipe or appliance.
How to Prevent Water Damage
There are several tips you can take to prevent pipe bursts within your home.
Inspect hoses that connect to appliances that use water. These include water heaters. Also check kitchen dishwashers and laundry room washing machines. Clean or replace ones that need attention.
Add insulation to your plumbing system. This step can prevent a pipe burst due to cold weather. When it's cold outside, turn a trickle of water from an outdoor faucet to keep water from freezing.
Get a smart home water leak sensor and wi-fi-connected thermostats. They will alert you when your pipes are cold enough to freeze. They will allow you to heat your home up to prevent frozen pipes.
Have a maintenance person drain your water heaters twice a year to prevent sediment buildup.
Ensure there are no objects blocking or pinching your water supply lines.
Tips to Get Insurance Coverage to Pay for Water Damage
Your insurance company won't pay to fix water damage coverage for a long-standing problem, like mold infestation, that has taken over your entire basement. More than anything, insurance companies like to protect people who take every precaution, even if they experience a disaster.
Also, keep in mind the insurance company may only cover the repair person's charges to fix water damage. So if your washing machine breaks down and causes water damages to your floors, your insurance will reimburse you. Your insurance will not cover your damaged washing machine unless you have a warranty on it.
Once you get a written estimate from a water damage restoration company or a contractor, you will meet with a claims adjuster for final approval. The adjuster will make a damage assessment. Often, a contractor's rates are higher than the adjuster's estimate. You can try to get the insurance adjuster to talk down your contractor. You may end up paying for a portion of the costs for your water damage insurance claim out of pocket, however.
If you've had a bad claim experience and are considering switching your insurance company, enter your zip code on this page for a free quote comparison from trustworthy insurers with competitive rates.
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