Will Insurance Cover My Home If It’s Damaged By Water?

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Standard homeowners insurance will cover water damages caused by a covered peril, such as a pipe bursting, fire or sudden overflow from a home appliance. Water damages caused by lack of maintenance, however, will not be covered. Insurance companies will also exclude coverage for flood-related damages, such as those caused by overflow from a broken dam, river or ocean.

Water damage accounted for 20% of all homeowners insurance claims filed in 2020 according to the Insurance Information institute. Keep reading to learn when and when not your insurance carrier will cover you for water damages.

What Qualifies as Water Damage?

To qualify for coverage by your insurance company, water damage must meet two criteria: First, it must be sudden and accidental. For example, insurance would cover your washing machine that suddenly started overflowing, causing water damage to your laminate flooring. A pipe that leaked for several months because you did not regularly inspect it, however, may be excluded from coverage.

Homeowners insurance does not cover water damages caused by neglect or lack of maintenance.

Second, the water damage must have been caused by a covered peril, such as a windstorm, the weight of snow or sudden overflow from a home appliance. We’ll explore specific water damage scenarios in the next section.

What Types of Water Damage Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

In a standard homeowners insurance policy, you are protected from the following losses:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Falling objects
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Smoke
  • Sudden/accidental power surges
  • Explosions
  • Hail
  • Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging of home systems
  • Damage by vehicles
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Theft
  • Freezing of home systems
  • Vandalism
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Windstorm
  • Accidental discharge/overflow of water

Covered Water Damage Examples

Below are example scenarios when your insurance carrier may cover your water damages.

  • Burst and leaking pipes: Dwelling coverage pays to repair your home’s structures, such as walls and floors. Personal property coverage will reimburse you for any damages to your personal belongings, such as electronics and clothes.
  • Overflow of appliances: The dwelling coverage portion of your home policy covers damages due to sudden water overflow from your appliances, such as a dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Storms: You’re covered for damages if hail shatters your window and heavy rain enters the room.
  • Ice dams: Icy buildup in your gutter can be damaging to your home and should be repaired quickly.
  • Fire: If a fire blazes through your home and firefighters extinguish it with heavy-pressure water, you’re covered for both the fire and water damage.
  • Sewer backup: Water damages from sewer backups that originated off your property are covered. If the origin point was on your property, you would need to purchase sewer backup coverage to receive coverage.
  • Mold: Insurance will only cover mold growth that was directly tied to a covered water damage claim. For example, if a central air conditioning pipe suddenly started leaking and mold started growing as a direct result, that may be covered.

What Types of Water Damage Are Not Covered?

Neglect or lack of maintenance resulting in water damage will not be covered by homeowners insurance. For example, if you haven’t repaired your leaky roof after several months, you will likely be denied coverage if you suffer water damages after a heavy storm. Insurance companies will not pay for damages caused by floods, either. This includes overflow from a water source, like a dam, river or ocean.

Below are scenarios when homeowners insurance would not cover water damages:

  • Flood damage from hurricanes, tropical storms, rivers that overflow their banks and floods. If you live in a flood-prone area, you may need to purchase a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • On-property water or sewer pipe backups
  • Poorly maintained leaking or burst pipes
  • Damage due to neglect or lack of maintenance issues (e.g., leaky sink or water heatings or plumbing systems in disrepair)
  • Water damage due to mold and rot.
  • Moisture that seeps into your home’s foundation.
  • Repair or replacement of the actual source of damage (e.g., damages to your floor are covered but not the cost to repair your washing machine)

What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage?

Insurance companies distinguish water damage and flood damage by the origin source — water damage is caused by a covered peril, while flood damage is caused by an external body of water, such as a dam, river or the ocean.

Damages caused by floods are never covered by a standard home insurance policy.

Water damages are suddenly and accidentally caused by a covered peril and not by an excluded external water source. For example, your policy covers a burst plumbing pipe that saturates the ceiling or a hail storm that breaks windows and allows water to enter your home. However, it won’t cover damages caused by the ocean level temporarily rising.

If you live in a high-risk flood zone, your mortgage lender may require you to maintain flood insurance. Without flood coverage, you will have to pay out of pocket for flood-related losses. Water damage, on the other hand, is commonly covered under home insurance, but only if caused by specific perils (see earlier section). Policyholders should read their coverage carefully to understand what exactly their insurer will cover.

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How Can You Prevent Water Damage?

Sealing potential leak points, insulating your pipes, using water leak sensors and more can help prevent or mitigate water damage. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these tips to help prevent water damage in your home:

  • Seal all the windows to prevent leaks and water seepage.
  • Install gutter guards to prevent leaves and other debris from blocking water.
  • Have a professional regularly inspect your roof, especially if it’s an older roof.
  • Check pipes for signs of leaks or cracks.
  • Remove trees with roots that could threaten your aqueduct system.
  • Seal showers to prevent leakage.
  • Check appliance hoses and replace worn-out or damaged ones.
  • Know where your main water valve is and how to turn it off.
  • Install an emergency pressure release valve for your plumbing to prevent burst pipes in freezing weather.
  • Drain water heaters twice each year.
  • Make sure your pipes are insulated and warm.
  • Install smart home water leak sensors.
  • Check your water bill for sudden increases, which could signify a water leak.

How Do You File a Water Damage Claim?

After confirming water damage to your home, you should contain the damages as best you can and file an insurance claim.

  1. Stop the water flow at its source, like turning off the water main after a burst pipe.
  2. Call law enforcement if illegal activity was the cause of water damage.
  3. Temporarily repair what you can. For example, a broken window could require a piece of plastic sheeting to prevent additional water from entering.
  4. Remove standing water. You may need to rent a water vacuum to remove excess water, which would otherwise encourage mold growth.
  5. Take pictures of all property that was damaged and the water source.
  6. Contact your insurance company to file an insurance claim. They may dispatch an adjuster to assess the damage.
  7. Submit documentation, including a police report, photos of the damages and photos of your home before the damage to support your claim.
  8. If the damages are covered, negotiate a settlement with your insurance company. You can hire a contractor to evaluate the water damage and determine the cost to repair it. This is useful in case the adjuster’s quote is too low.
  9. Accept the settlement and schedule a contractor to complete the repairs.


Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from rain?

Water damage caused by rain may be covered if it was caused by a covered peril. For example, you may be covered if during a rainstorm, if a hailstone broke a window and let in the rain.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage to floors?

Homeowners insurance will cover sudden and accidental water damage to your floors, such as your dishwasher overflowing and damaging your floor or a fire triggering a sprinkler system in your home.

Can you claim a leaking shower on insurance?

Insurers likely won’t cover a leaking shower or any other leaky items. Instead, the causes of these leaks would be classified under lack of regular maintenance, which is not covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

Does insurance cover plumbing issues?

Plumbing issues are generally excluded from coverage in standard homeowners insurance unless they cause sudden and accidental damages, like a pipe bursting and spraying throughout the room.

Key Takeaways
  • Homeowners insurance covers sudden and accidental water damages caused by a covered peril, such as when an HVAC pipe bursts or a dishwasher overflows.
  • Standard home insurance policies won’t cover water damages caused by lack of maintenance or flooding from natural water sources, like rivers and oceans.
  • If you experience water damage, call your insurance company immediately to prevent further damage.

Sudden water damage can be a scary event, but you may be covered. Most standard homeowners policies will cover you under certain events, but not all. SmartFinancial can help you find home insurance that fits your budget, along with optional coverage. To get free home insurance quotes, just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291.


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